Welcome to the highlight of my sports year.
The 51st Iditarod starts Saturday, March 4 with the ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage. The real race begins on Sunday the 5th. Has been a tough year for a lot of mushers. Many of them supplement income giving tours and the lack of travel with COVID took a toll on income while inflation pushed up costs of maintaining a kennel. This year's field of 33 will be the smallest ever - 34 participated in the inaugural race in 1973. Less sponsorship with economic uncertainty and constant attacks from PETA (only someone who has never mushed a dog team could think sled dogs don't love running them) have dried up funds too.
Last year's winner, Brent Sass, leads the field, but VT's Paige Drobny and honorary Hokie by marriage Cody Strathe are not there. I tried to look them up and see if there was any specific reason they were not running this year, but did not see anything. Neither are Mitch or Dallas Seavey, the father-son duo that have won 8 championships over the years. Lance Mackey, who passed away last year, will be missed, but his brother, Jason Mackey, will be there to carry the torch. Plenty of interesting stories like Bridget Watkins, who was so close to finishing her first Iditarod last year but was caught in the massive wind storm that ended the race for many just before Nome.
I'll be posting updates on the race. Hope people enjoy.
You know I'm here for it
Love reading the updates. Do you know if it is being streamed anywhere?
If you sign up and pay as an Insider on the Iditarod website, it will stream a lot of things. Should do the start as well. It is not that much to join. $39.95 is the lower paid content option, which is the one I have. Honestly not sure if the free option gets you the streaming or not.
The website of the Anchorage Daily News used to do it. Presume they still do, but since I pay for the Iditarod Insider, I've not wanted to pay for the ADN site. And I suspect a lot of the local TV news stations in Anchorage will stream it too.
Free does not give access to streaming.
This has several links to the live stream of the start. Pretty sure the local NBC affiliate in Anchorage is free live streaming. Probably on Facebook too.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska's News Source, in partnership with Iditarod.com, will offer live pre-race coverage and the 2023 Iditarod Ceremonial Start on Saturday morning.
When to watch
Pre-race coverage begins at 8:30 a.m. (That is Alaska time, so 12:30 PM east coast)
The ceremonial start begins at 10 a.m. (That is Alaska time, so 2 PM east coast)
How to watch
On TV on Channel 2 (NBC)
Live-streamed on the Alaska's News Source website
Live-streamed on the Alaska's News Source Facebook
Live-streamed on the Alaska's News Source
Coverage will also be available on the Alaska's News Source family of streaming apps
Sorry to hear our "Hometown Heroes" won't be on this year.
I'm gonna follow this.
I'll be following along via your posts again.
And they are off! Jessie Holmes with bib #2 (bib #1 was withheld and given to Lance Mackey who passed away a few months ago) just left at 2:05 PM east coast time by my computer.
Good luck to everyone on the trail.
Defending champion Brent Sass with bib #14 is off at 2:31 PM east coast time. Has 11 dogs that won last year's race + 3 new ones.
Jason Mackey is off at 2:44 PM east coast time. Taking his brother Lance's ashes with him. Plan is to spread some along the trail and bring some to the finish in Nome.
And South Africa's Gerhardt Thiart is off at 2:49 PM. He was another one of mushers that had to scratch because of the big storm near the end of the race.
That's it for today. Deke Naaktgeboren just left the starting line in Anchorage with bib 34 at 3:15 PM East Coast Time.
Everyone will go about 11 miles to Campbell Airstrip. Teams will be loaded up on trucks and taken to Willow, AK where the real race starts tomorrow. First musher should depart Willow at 2 PM Alaska Time/6 PM East Coast Time on Sunday, March 5.
Here is the map of the 2023 course.
The Shaktoolik-Koyuk leg always freaks me out when they hit that part.
Just about 5 minutes before the livestream is supposed to start from the restart in Willow. Weather says sunny and about 20 degrees, which is a bit warm for the dogs, but should be getting dark soon and cooling off into the single digits as the teams head out onto Willow Lake, through forest trails and towards the Yentna Station Checkpoint 42 miles away. After that is 30 miles up the Yentna River to the town of Skwentna on the Yentna River. Population 90 according to Iditarod website.
Edit: and Jessie Holmes is off as the first musher. Promptly at 2PM Alaska/6 PM east coast. None of this BS pop music, commercial delays, whatever the heck makes most sports events start 10 or 20 minutes after they are supposed to!
Lead mushers will push on towards Finger Lake. Skwentna to Finger Lake is 40 miles is uphill most of the way to Finger Lake, but the trail is reported to not be overly tough. We will see!
What? No inviting Little Richard to slowly sing both the US and Canadian national anthems?
Thank God no. Here they would have to also do Australia, Denmark and South Africa as well as US and Canada. Would it be an hour delayed?
Mystery Alaska was a great movie just for that.
Everyone has relaunched. Deke Naaktgeboren with bib 34 just left at 3:04 PM Alaska/7:04 PM east coast. He said his hobbies were being a dad and mowing the lawn. Way to go man. Good luck and safe travels to all the mushers and teams.
Way too early results on the GPS tracker show Denmark's Millie Porsild as the ultra, ultra early lead followed by Jessie Holmes and Ryan Reddington. Good night all.
Monday morning, March 6.
All teams are on the trail from Yentna Station to Finger Lake. Most are still pretty well bunched together along the route, but your current early leaders are:
Jessie Holmes - running and 889 miles to Nome
Brent Sass - running and 890 miles to Nome
Kelly Maxiner - team resting on the trail and 895 miles to Nome
Dan Kaduce - team resting on the trail and 896 miles to Nome
Richie Diehl - running and 896 miles to Nome - will presumably move up into 3rd shortly as he passes the 2 resting teams.
Rookie Jed Stephenson holds the Red Lantern position and is running 931 miles from Nome
Dumb question, but what kind of dogs are the mushers using? I've always assumed Huskies but from a little Google research it looks like a lot of them might specifically be a "sled dog" breed
In general, they use "Alaskan Huskies". These are not a real, recognized breed by anyone though. People have taken Siberian Huskies and bred them with other breeds, including things like greyhounds, to increase their speed but still allow them to be comfortable in the Arctic weather. Some people still race with Siberian Huskies, but I think all of the top racers have these mixed breed dogs.
One of the reasons they have booties and you sometimes see them with jackets is because they are smaller and less cold tolerant than pure Arctic dogs like Siberians, Canadian Huskies (the traditional Intuit cargo hauling dogs) or Malamutes. They are big and strong and easily handle the cold, but are not great for speed.
As of ~1 PM east coast/8AM Alaska time, the leaders have checked out of Finger Lake checkpoint and are on the 30 mile uphill run to Rainy Pass, which will take them over the top of the Alaska Range. From there, it is largely downhill and includes the notoriously difficult Dalzell Gorge. A lot of people can wipe out on this stretch.
Brent Sass was first out of Finger Lake with 14 dogs at 4:09 AM Alaska/9:09 east coast. He was followed within 1-3 hours by several other teams quickly passing through. Other mushers have chosen to take several hours rest at Finger Lake.
According to GPS, the leaders now are:
Ryan Reddington running with 13 dogs is approaching Rainy Pass and 853 miles to Nome
Rookie Hunter Keefe running with 14 dogs and 854 miles to Nome
Dan Kaduce running with 14 dogs and 860 miles to Nome
Nicholas Petit currently resting with 14 dogs and 864 miles to Nome
Jessie Holmes currently resting with 14 dogs and 864 miles to Nome
A lot of people will probably take their first mandatory rest break (either 8 hours or 24 hours) in Rohn as the trail from Rohn to Nikoli is one of the longest legs, 75 miles.
Trail conditions are supposed to be excellent with good snow cover and good weather.
Wow, Reddington is down a fog already. Bad luck.
Just saw Nick Petit dropped 2 dogs at Rainy Pass. Down to 12 this early does not sound good. At ~12 PM Alaska / 5 PM east coast, we do have the top 5 out and on the trail to Rohn.
Richie Diehl running with 13 dogs 834 miles to Nome
Brent Sass resting on the trail with 14 dogs 835 miles to Nome
Jessie Holmes resting on the trail with 14 dogs 836 miles to Nome
Millie Porsild running with 14 dogs 841 miles to Nome
Nicholas Petit running 12 dogs 842 miles to Nome
GPS has 5 more teams into Rainy Pass now.
Monday night, March 6.
Nick Petit pulled into the Rohn checkpoint at 4:19 local time/9:19 east coast with 12 dogs. As I write 1.5 hrs later, he is still the only one there. Has been resting the team 810 miles to Nome
Following him and still on the trail are:
Ryan Redington running with 12 dogs and just 1 mile outside of Rohn (811 to Nome)
Brent Sass running with 14 dogs and 814 miles from Nome
Jessie Holmes running with 14 dogs and 816 miles from Nome
Kelly Maixner running with 14 dogs and 818 miles from Nome
Those 4 and several others on the trial should be in Rohn shortly
At the back of the pack in red lantern position is Gerhardt Thiart with 14 dogs and 855 miles from Nome. Gerhardt was one of the people who was caught in the bad storm near the end of last year's race who was injured and had to scratch right before Nome. Hopefully he and the others who were caught in the storm can complete this year.
Edit, another one of the people who was forced to scratch right before Nome last year, KatieJo Deetter, had a crash coming into Rainy Pass. Her ice hook came free and grabbed a hold of a tree bringing things to an insant stop. Hook was buried so deep in the tree, she had to cut down the tree to get free. Broke a leg on her sled, but got it fixed and is going on.
OOf Ice hook in a tree.
If anyone goes through Rohn tonight, they will be on the long stretch to Nikoli. Train conditions have been good, but word is that stretch has some rough patches. From the Iditarod site (the Farewell Burn was an area that a massive forest fire went through many years ago, but can still be a mess):
"The trail from Rohn to Nikolai, especially the Farewell Burn was classified as rough by Nordman. He cited lack of traffic earlier in the winter and blowing snow as the reason for the large moguls and poor base. The area is typically windy so when snow falls it blows and leaves the trail bare. In recent memory, mushers the year of the Gold Trail Loop, experienced snow fall as they traversed the Burn. Some said it was a remarkable transformation and even went to far as to say they enjoyed the Burn that year. The same won't be true this year unless Mother Nature comes through with snow and puts a damper on the wind."
Tuesday morning, March 7.
Well I'm surprised. No one even close to the front took a formal layover at Rohn, although a few did take breaks of several hours to rest up the team.
The top 19 mushers are all on the trail from Rohn to Nikoli. Current leaders are:
Nicholas Petit resting on the trail with 12 dogs 772 miles to Nome and ~35 miles from Nikoli
Jessie Holmes resting on the trail with 14 dogs 777 miles to Nome
Dan Kaduce running with 14 dogs 779 miles to Nome
Kelly Maxiner running with 13 dogs 779 miles to Nome
Ryan Reddington resting on the trail with 12 dogs 780 miles to Nome
Rookie Hunter Keefe continues to be very close to the leaders. I 6th place running with 12 dogs. Rarely see rookies this far up front, but it is still pretty early.
We had our first scratch of the race. Rookie Jennifer LaBar scratched at the Rainy Pass checkpoint with 13 dogs. She had sustained a hand injury earlier in the day and decided to drop out after getting medical advice.
Rookie Greg Vitello is currently in the red lantern position. He is also at Rainy Pass checkpoint. Although the trail was really good for most of the first few legs, he did note that by the time he was approaching Rainy Pass, things had gotten chewed up with all the teams going ahead of him.
Tuesday night, March 7.
The top 12 teams are all relatively close to each other on the trail from the native village of Nikoli to the trading post town of McGrath. The mushers are going through a series of interior Alaska villages with overland and lake trails before they hit the checkpoint at the ghost town of Ophir and then the ghost town of Iditarod.
Weather has been warm and some of the teams have been slowed by this. Probably why so many are still so bunched up. Possibility of freezing rain or snow tonight.
Current leaders are:
Ryan Reddington running with 12 dogs 701 miles from Nome
Jessie Holmes running with 13 dogs 702 miles from Nome
Richie Diehl running with 12 dogs 703 miles from Nome
Brent Sass running with 11 dogs 705 miles from Nome
Kelly Maixner running with 13 dogs 708 miles from Nome
In 12th place is Dan Kaduce running with 14 dogs 734 miles from Nome, so you have 12 leading teams within just over 30 miles apart as we approach the 300 mile race mark.
Video from the race analyst noted that the 3 strongest teams coming into Nikoli were Peter Kaiser's (currently in 6th place all with 14 dogs), Jessie Holmes in 2nd, and Kelly Maixner in 5th. Richie Diehl in 3rd also looked pretty strong.
Leading teams are going to have to start taking their 24 hour layover in the next few checkpoints.
Interview with Brent Sass and he noted the team was struggling earlier. 1 had a sore leg, 1 a sore shoulder and 1 was a young dog that overheated and had to be carried in the sled. All 3 were dropped. Says the remaining 11 are doing well.
Yeah, first one with 11 dogs will make it hard. At least he made it past the point of crossing the mountains that first time before having to drop dogs.
Wednesday morning March 8.
Jessie Holmes currently leads, having pulled into the ghost town of Ophir with 12 dogs at 11:45 last night Alaska/3:45 AM east coast. He was followed by Brent Sass with 11 dogs at 12:20 AM Alaska/4:20 AM east coast. Both have been resting the teams since, 352 miles into the race and 646 into Nome.
After Jessie and Brent, there are 9 teams resting 23 miles behind them at the town of Takotna checkpoint. They were led by:
Ryan Reddington with 12 dogs
Richie Diehl with 12 dogs
Peter Kaiser with 14 dogs
Further back, there are 8 teams resting in Nikoli. One top musher, Nicolas Petit, is in that group as he choose to take his 24 hour layover there, while other top contenders have pushed on to McGrath, Takota or Ophir (or will continue on to Iditarod) for the 24 hours.
Rookie Greg Vitello is on the trail heading towards Nikoli with 13 dogs in the red lantern position.
Petit might have it right with the early 24 hour rest. He still has all his dogs. The rest now may allow him to keep all his dog power longer, keeping the remaining less tired for the rest of the run.
Is it me or are there far more teams dropping dogs earlier than normal this year?
There's always a bunch right at the beginning and right at the end
Late afternoon here on the east coast and it looks like that large majority of mushers are taking their 24 hour layover now. Only 2 teams are actively moving on the GPS tracker.
Current leader is Wade Marrs. He pulled into Ophir at 9:13 AM Alaska/1:13 PM east coast with 13 dogs. Pulled out 11 minutes later with 12 dogs on the long overland stretch to the checkpoint at the ghost town of Iditarod. Currently resting on the trail 9 miles out of Ophir and 637 miles to Nome. Assume he will do the 24 hours in Iditarod. He has 4 top 10 finishes, so I'm sure he knows what he is doing even though he is going much further than a lot of teams before stopping.
Jessie Holmes and Brent Sass have been in Ophir for hours. Assume they are staying until tomorrow. They were joined by Aaron Peck who arrived at 7:24 AM Alaska/11:24 east coast with 13 dogs, so he is officially listed in 4th.
Back in Takotna, 16 teams are resting and most of them have been there for several hours. Assume most or all are staying. Takotna is well known for being one of the most comfortable and well supported checkpoints (for mushers and dogs), so a lot of people like to do their 24 hour there.
Further back, 8 teams are in McGrath. Same story with a lot of them having been there for hours.
At the moment, the only 2 people moving are Deke Naaktgeboron running in 21st place with 13 dogs between McGrath and Takotna and Nicholas Petit, running in 30th place with 13 dogs and almost into McGrath. He is the only person to complete the 24 hr layover, so he should move well up in the standings in the next few hours.
Has been warm, so teams have been resting more during the day and many are trying not to push too far on any given segment.
Thursday morning, March 9.
Almost all top teams have finished their 24 hour layover and some long runs are expected. Weather continues to be warm and the analyst video was thinking the ultimate winner could be the team that best handles the warmth as opposed to the straight line fastest or strongest. Long overnight runs and take it easy during the day.
Wade Marrs is officially listed in first. He pulled into Iditarod at 1:12 AM Alaska/5:12 AM east coast with 12 dogs. resting there 432 miles in and 566 miles to Nome. He is one of the few contenders that has not completed his 24, so others will catch up today.
A large group of teams left Ophir checkpoint between 11:20 PM last night and 2:08 AM this morning Alaska time (3:20 AM-6:08 AM east coast) and are on the trail to Iditarod. All have completed their 24. For some reason, the leader board and GPS tracker don't come close to matching, so I'm using the GPS.
After Wade, the next 9 mushers are all on the trail from Ophir to Iditarod and are pretty close together:
Richie Diehl with 12 dogs 624 miles to Nome
Nic Petit with 12 dogs 625 miles to Nome
Ryan Redington 625 miles to Nome - Redington broke a sled runner and had to switch to another that he had
Pete Kaiser 630 miles to Nome
Jessie Holmes 631 miles to Nome
Brent Sass 631 miles to Nome
Kelly Maixner 637 miles to Nome
Matthew Failor 638 miles to Nome
Rookie Eddie Burke Jr. 642 mile to Nome
In the red lantern position is rookie Gregg Vitello with 12 dogs back in McGrath with 13 dogs.
Looking ahead, once teams start leaving Iditarod, the next legs are:
Iditarod to native village of Shageluk is considered hilly with a lot of ups and downs as the overland interior Alaska terrain winds down.
Shageluk to Anvik village is a short, flat segment on flatlands and lakes to the first stop on the Yukon River.
Anvik to the village of Grayling follows the Yukon River. Mushers will stay on the Yukon until the reach Kaltag, where they then head overland to the coast.
Thursday evening March 9.
Pretty much all of the top teams have reached Iditarod and completed their 24 hour layover. Only exceptions are Wade Marrs will have to stay in Iditarod until tomorrow morning before he can leave and Millie Porsild is on the trail with 10 dogs about 6 miles short of Iditarod. Leaders are about half way there and we still have a whole bunch of teams bunched together at the front.
Jessie Holmes has taken the lead. He stayed just 4 minutes in Iditarod before pulling out towards the village of Shageluk with 12 dogs at 1:39 PM Alaska/5:39 PM east coast. Brent Sass was second out of Iditarod, resting there for about 4 hours and then pulling out at 4:26 Alaska/8:26 east coast with 11 dogs. Jessie is 547 miles to Nome and Brent 565.
Back in Iditarod we have 8 teams. Wade Marrs is still officially listed in third based on arrival time, but as mentioned, he cannot leave anytime soon. We also have Richie Diehl, Ryan Reddington, Peter Kaiser, Nicholas Petit, rookie Eddie Burke Jr., Matthew Failor and rookie Hunter Keefe. Millie will be there soon too. Seems like Jessie and Brent have been pushing for the lead for a while. The analyst video was saying that Richie Diehl's and Pete Kaiser's teams look really strong now as well. Burke Jr. and Keefe are way ahead of the next rookie, KattiJo Deeter, so appears to be a 2 man race for rookie of the year. Rookie Gregg Vitello continues to hold the red lantern position, just past McGrath and 687 miles to Nome. He is also about 40 miles behind his son, fellow rookie Bailey Vitello.
Once the teams get through the long, hilly stretch to Shageluk , it is a short, flat run to the Yukon River at Anvik. Word is the warm weather has water and slush on the Yukon, so it could be a slow slog as teams make their way along the 140 miles or so along the river.
Sorry, have a lot of work to do today. Will be a quick review on Friday morning, March 10.
Brent Sass was first to Shageluk, arriving with 11 dogs at 11:43 PM Alaska/3:43 AM east coast. He has been resting the team since. Jessie Holmes arrived second with 12 dogs at 12:45 AM Alaska/4:45 AM east coast. Like at Iditarod, he pulled out just 4 minutes later and is on the trail to Anvik. Leader board is now:
Jessie Holmes, running with 12 dogs 501 into the race and 497 to Nome.
In Shageluk we have:
Eddie Burke Jr.
Nicholas Petit - who, literally, just arrived between when I started writing this post and now.
Friday evening, March 10.
All of the top contenders are on the river road. Jessie Holmes was the first to Anvik on the Yukon, arriving just after 4 AM local time. Unlike recent checkpoints, he rested his team, taking his mandatory 8 hour layover there. Nicholas Petit and Brent Sass arrived around 7 AM local time. This time, Brent Sass left quickly and took over the lead. Several other teams arrived there and either rested or set off down the Yukon. 8 mushers have reached the village of Grayling, the last settlement until they reach Kaltag 130 miles down river.
Current leader is Brent Sass, having pulled out of Grayling at 9:52 AM Alaska/1:52 PM east coast with 11 dogs. Jessie Holmes continues to be in second, having left Grayling with 11 dogs at 2:47 PM/6:47 east coast. Brent is 453 miles to Nome and has said he hopes to do his 8 hour in Kaltag. Jessie is 8 miles behind Brent, 461 miles to Nome.
Next group is all in Grayling including:
Richie Diehl with 12 dogs in
Peter Kaiser with 11 dogs in
Matt Failor with 11 dogs in
Kelly Maxiner with 11 dogs in
Ryan Redington with 12 dogs in (he and Jessie Holmes are the 2 in the top group that have completed their 8 hour)
Mille Porsild with 9 dogs in
Temperatures have dropped and Sass' team looked energized by the cold.
Saturday morning. March 11.
Brent Sass and Jessie Holmes continue to jockey for position. Brent pulled into Eagle Island checkpoint at 9:38 PM last night (1:38 AM east coast) with 11 dogs and has the team resting there. Currently it is Holmes in the lead. He arrived at Eagle Island a little more than 3 hours after Brent and pulled out at 2:05 AM local/6:05 AM east coast with 11 dogs on the way to Kaltag. He is currently 399 miles to Nome.
Several teams are resting at Eagle Island, 406 miles to Nome, including:
Rookie Eddie Burke Jr.
Rookie Gregg Vitello pulled into Iditarod at 1:02 AM local time/5:02 AM east coast with 13 dogs. He continues to hold the red lantern position. His son Bailey had pulled out of Iditarod a few hours before Gregg arrived.
Analysts seem to think that your winner will be one of Holmes, Sass, Diehl or Kaiser. Those teams have always been near the front and/or have looked strong with Nick Petit being a wild card.
Brent Sass out of race due to medical situation
Ouch. Dental or jaw issue it appears. From Iditarod website:
"Veteran musher and 2022 Iditarod Champion, Brent Sass (bib #14), of Eureka, Alaska, scratched at 7:42 a.m. today at the Eagle Island checkpoint as he didn't feel he could care for his team due to current concerns with his periodontal health.
Sass had 11 dogs in harness when he arrived in Eagle Island, all in good health."
With Sass out of the race, we still have a real tight race upfront at just after 2:30 PM east coast. 12 teams on the trail from Eagle Island to Kaltag. Once there, they will leave the Yukon River and take the 80-85 mile Kaltag Portage over to Unalakleet on the sea coast, described below from Iditarod website:
"This leg follows the ancient Kaltag portage, a relatively straight valley angling southwest through the coastal mountains; the route has been used for millennia by Natives. It is normally a well-used snowmachine highway. It marks the major transition from the inland river environment to the Bering Sea coast. Conditions can be vastly different at opposite ends of the portage, and wind is a constant threat on the western half."
Your leaderboard is now:
(1) Ryan Reddington with 12 dogs 368 miles to Nome
(2) Richie Diehl with 11 dogs 369 miles to Nome
(3) Pete Kaiser with 11 dogs 370 miles to Nome - Pete is now the only person in the race with a first place finish, winning in 2019
(4) Jessie Holmes with 11 dogs 373 miles to Nome
(5) Kelly Maixner with 11 dogs 378 miles to Nome - but he has not taken his 8 hour layover, so will drop back a bit at some point
(6) Millie Porsild with 9 dogs 386 miles to Nome - but she has not taken her 8 hour layover, so will drop back a bit at some point
(7) Matt Failor with 10 dogs 390 miles to Nome
(8) Eddie Burke Jr. with 10 dogs 392 miles from Nome and the leading rookie
(9) Nicholas Petit with 10 dogs 394 miles from Nome
(10) Matt Hall with 12 dogs 404 miles from Nome
Hunter Keefe and Wade Marrs also on the trail to Kaltag behind them.
Ryan Redington first into Kaltag. Richie Diehl and Pete Kaiser are just a few miles behind and will be there shortly.
are warm temperatures still am issue, seems like teams are holding on to dogs longer.
Supposedly it has cooled off a lot and things have been a lot better the last day or two. One of the reasons they thought Sass' team had been looking much better than early on. Just looked at the Kaltag temperature and it said 12 degrees, and this is pretty much the hottest time of the day (2:50 PM local as I write). So I think things are good now.
Sunday morning, May 12.
Ryan Redington continues to lead. Has opened up a 20 mile lead on the rest of the field. Ryan was the first to reach the ocean, pulling into Unalakleet with 12 dogs at 4:20 AM local/8:20 AM east coast. Now 261 miles to Nome. Has been resting the team there before heading up the coast on the ~40 mile leg to Shaktoolik. After that is the ~50 mile leg across the frozen Norton Sound to Koyuk.
Weather has been good. 4 degree in Unalakleet now with a low of -7 and a high of 6, so heat should not be an issue.
13 other teams are on the trail from Kaltag to Unalakleet. They are led by:
Peter Kaiser - resting with 10 dogs 281 miles from Nome
Richie Diehl - resting with 11 dogs 284 miles from Nome
Matt Hall - running with 10 dogs 292 miles from Nome
Wade Marrs - running with 10 dogs 294 miles from Nome
Rookie Gregg Vitello scratched in Iditarod:
"Anchorage, Alaska – Rookie musher Gregg Vitello (bib #29), of Milan, New Hampshire, scratched at 3:34 p.m. today at the Iditarod checkpoint which was in best interest of his team. Greg contacted Race Marshal Mark Nordman through a third party and asked for the Iditarod trail sweeps to escort him and his dog team back to Iditarod. Gregg and his team are fine and will be transported off the trail by the Iditarod Air Force.
Vitello had 12 dogs in harness when he scratched, all in good health."
Ryan Redington had not been talked about as much as some of the other top mushers, but he has maintained the lead for a while. Interview with him noted that his team was running fast lately. He agreed that his team does have more straight speed than other teams - a lot more than some - but that they are not the strongest physically. Thought is that as long as the weather remains good without a lot of wind, he has a good shot. If storms and wind pick up, his team may struggle more than some of the other teams. Full disclosure, I'm just repeating what the top 3 said during their interviews in Kaltag.
Peter Kaiser interview mentions that he had been holding the team back. Ready to open things up. He and Redington feeling good about their teams and Diehl noted Kaiser, Redington and him are all happy with their positioning. Kaiser did note personally, he was tired out and having a hard time staying awake. Had to pull out his toothbrush and vigorously brushing his teeth to stay awake.
Weather report is 20 mph wings out at Shkolnik and expected to pick up during the day. Not too bad now by Norton Sound standards, but will be getting worse during the day.
I feel like wings gotta be against the rules, no?
Pretty sure :-).
Of course the wind was out of the north, so sails would be a bad idea even if you could get away with having them.
Sunday early evening, March 12.
Top 3 in Shaktoolik and getting ready for the trip across the sea ice. 777 miles in and 221 miles to Nome.
Ryan Redington continued to hold the lead, pulling into the checkpoint at 1:20 PM Alaska/5:20 PM east coast with 11 dogs.
Peter Kaiser has closed the gap, pulling in at 2:06 PM Alaska/6:06 east coast with 11 dogs.
Riche Diehl just pulled in. To the point where the official time is not on the leader board yet, but he arrived with 10 dogs. Assuming it will be around 3:30 Alaska/7:30 east coast.
No one else that close. Assumption is that it is a 3 team race unless bad weather or something else bad causes the leaders to drop out or have to wait, which will allow other teams to bunch up with the front 3.
EDIT: Diehl's official time pulling in was 3:24 PM local/7:24 PM east coast.
Interview with 5-time winner Dallas Seavey. He said the top 5 teams all looked good back in Unalakleet, but some looked better than others. Noted like the analysts that Ryan has the fastest team. Has been doing most runs with more speed than Pete, but Pete's team seems really, really strong and powerful. Said they nearly ripped the anchor right out of the ice wanting to go when Pete got off to get something before pulling out. Likely can go further in a run. If Ryan can make it a speed run race, he has a good chance, but his guess was Pete Kaiser seems in the best position. Noted that Richie Diehl is in a bit of a tough spot. Thinks Ryan's team has more straight speed but Pete's has more strength. Richie is definitely in striking position, but has a much tougher road. If it turns into a speed race or an endurance race, one of the people in front of him has an advantage.
Of course, still plenty of miles, plenty of chances for twists, plenty of opportunities, but once they reach Koyuk, there are only so many chances for teams to make a move.
And trail report on the Norton Sound. Wind is 25 mph out of the north and temperature is below 0 during the day local time. Dogs will be fine, but the wind chill blowing in their face will be pretty fridged for the mushers. Some pressure ridges on the sea ice, but no open water and little snow (it has been packed down tight by prior storms) so should be clear and cold conditions across the ice when the leaders do the ~50 mile run over the ice.
Ryan Redington first out of Shaktoolik. Pulled out with 11 dogs at 4:48 PM Alaska/8:48 PM east coast. Guessing Kaiser will be following soon, but we will see.
EDIT: Pete Kaiser out with 10 dogs. Not sure what his official time out was. Probably about 5:35 PM Alaska/9:35 PM east coast.
Double edit:Kaiser officially out at 5:33 PM Alaska/9:33 PM east coast.
Not sure if Diehl will try to leave soon or give the team more rest.
Monday, March 13 AM.
Ryan Redington, Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl have all made it across the sea ice to Koyuk. 5 other teams, led by Matt Hall and Jessie Holmes are on their way across the ice as I type. Was a video showing some of the teams crossing and the entire sky was an amazingly intense shade of pink. Never see anything like it. Clear, cold and not too breezy weather for the crossing. -9 in Koyuk now.
Ryan pulled into Koyuk with 11 dogs at 10:46 PM last night/2:46 AM east coast and pulled out after ~3.5 hours rest with 10 dogs. Currently running on the trail to Elim, 164 miles to Nome.
Pete pulled into Koyuk with 10 dogs at 11:21 PM last night/3:21 AM east coast and also pulled out after ~3.5 hours rest with 8 dogs. Currently running on the trail to Elim, 167 miles to Nome.
Richie pulled into Koyuk with 10 dogs at 1:42 AM/5:42 AM east coast and is resting the team there, 171 miles to Nome.
On the red lantern position is rookie Jed Stephenson, on the Yukon River run to Kaltag with 12 dogs, 375 miles to Nome.
Monday, March 13, ~1:15 PM
GPS tracker says that both Ryan Redington and Pete Kaiser have reached the Elim checkpoint and have pulled out on their way to White Mountain. Leaderboard has Redington arriving with 10 dogs at 8:35 AM Alaska/12:35 PM east coast. He was at the checkpoint for 13 minutes and dropped 2 dogs. Now mushing with 8 dogs 122 miles from Nome.
Leaderboard has not been updated for Pete but GPS has him in Elim with 8 dogs 123 miles from Nome. Diehl is about 25 miles behind Pete, so unless the leaders falter or weather stops things, pretty much a (very close) 2 team race now with Diehl holding onto 3rd. Analysts said Diehl had slowed down, so he may be more focused on resting the team and ensuring he stays in 3rd position than trying to chase down the leaders.
The stretch to White Mountain is along the shore as well as along stretches of sea ice off shore for about 45 miles. All teams have a mandatory 8 hour rest at White Mountain before they can push on towards Safety and then Nome. With the 8 hour break, means the winner should occur tomorrow or early Wednesday if we don't get bad weather forcing people to wait.
Late afternoon, Monday, March 13.
Well, I am stunned. Analysts too. Pete Kaiser's team looked so strong with both the analysts and Dallas Seavey thinking he would catch Ryan Redington, but that looks unlikely now.
As mentioned above, Ryan Redington spent only 13 minutes in Elim and pulled out after dropping 2 dogs. Pete Kaiser pulled in less than 30 minutes later at 9:02 Alaska time/1:02 east coast and was listed on the GPS as only 1 mile behind Ryan. Had assumed he would pull right out (and analysts thought he would either pass Ryan before even getting to Elim or on the trail to White Mountain), but he is still in Elim more than 4 hours later. Richie Diehl has also pulled into Elim and is resting.
Currently, Redington is running with 8 dogs about 20 miles from White Mountain and 96 miles from Nome.
Kaiser and Diehl are 123 miles from Nome and that is a real big lead at this stage of the race.
Comments from the analysts that it is Ryan's race to lose now and there probably has to be some type of bad weather to make him stop and allow the others to catch up (it is starting to snow now) or something else happens to really slow the team. Otherwise, the grandson of Joe Redington Sr. (aka, The Father of the Iditarod) will be the first Redington to take the top spot. Ryan's father and grandfather were top mushers but never took first. Ryan is in a great spot to take it. But, if a storm blows in or the dogs tire, all bets are off, so take nothing for granted.
I hope Pete and his team are okay. The long rest when Ryan pulled right out has me worried there is a problem with him or his team. Really interested in hearing the interviews at the end of the race about the strategy from Koyuk onto the end of the race.
Monday evening, May 13.
Ryan Redington pulled into White Mountain with 8 dogs at 4:12 PM Alaska time/8:12 PM east coast. He will be eligible to leave on the final 77 miles from White Mountain to Safety and then Nome at 12:12 AM Alaska time on the 14th/4:12 AM east coast. That should put him in Nome later tomorrow if there are no problems.
2nd = Pete Kaiser - who pulled out from Elim at 2:22 PM Alaska/6:22 PM east coast is running with 8 dogs 108 miles from Nome and about 30 miles from White Mountain
3rd = Richie Diehl is running with 7 dogs also 108 miles from Nome, he actually pulled out of Elim just before Pete
4th = Matt Hall is running with 8 dogs 115 miles from Nome
5th = Jessie Holmes with 10 dogs just about to reach Elim and 128 miles from Nome
Tuesday morning, March 14 - happy Pi Day.
Ryan Redington pulled out of White Mountain with 6 dogs at 12:15 AM local time/4:15 AM east coast. I thought 6 was the minimum number of dogs you could have on the team, but just looked it up and I see 5 now. Anyway, he is currently running on the way to Safety, 60 miles from Nome.
Back in White Mountain, Pete Kaiser, Richie Diehl, Matt Hall, Kelly Maixner and Jessie Holmes are all taking their mandatory 8 hour layover there, 77 miles from Nome. Kaiser and Diehl, respectively, arrived at 8:29 PM and 8:37 PM local last night (12:29 and 12:37 AM east coast). They will be eligible to leave at 8:29 AM and 8:37 AM east coast. Other teams at White Mountain are 2-6 hours behind them.
According to the Iditarod website, expect the winner to arrive between 9-10:30 AM local time, 1-2:30 PM east coast:
"Depending on what Mother Nature has brewing for the leaders as they depart White Mountain and negotiate Topkok, the Blow Hole, Safety and Cape Nome there should be a champion on Front Street sometime between 0900 and 1030."
Latest update is now just before noon Alaska time/a bit before 4 PM east coast.
Well I am about to be seriously annoyed as the Iditarod site is down. Did the ACC Network take it over?
Depends. Do you see spurtle and tac-lite ads?
No, just 504 time out messages and the like. Sigh. Thank you for the comic relief. Went to the Iditarod's Facebook site and I see it is not just me. Site is down. Tried going via local Alaska news stations, but not there either.
Anchorage channel 2 is broadcasting from Nome:
But sorry, my mistake, it is not a live feed. Just their blog and some videos.
Native Alaskan Ryan Redington pulls into Nome with 6 dogs to win the 51st Iditarod (pending checking of his sled that he has all the required equipment). Unofficial time by my computer of 12:13 PM local Alaska time/4:13 PM east coast.
Tuesday evening, March 14.
Ryan Redington's official time into Nome was 12:12 PM Alaska/4:12 east coast. Takes home first place with a total time of 8d 21h 12m 58s.
He has been followed by:
Pete Kaiser - arriving with 8 dogs at 1:36 PM Alaska/5:36 PM east coast
Richie Diehl - arriving with 7 dogs at 2:40 PM Alaska/6:40 PM east coast
Matt Hall is on the trail from White Mountain to Nome, 11 miles out with 11 dogs in 4th.
Battle for 5th is between Kelly Maixner into White Mountain and Jessie Holmes 5 miles behind him, but hard to make up 5 miles this late.
Looks like Eddie Burke Jr. will take rookie of the year. He is running in 9th place 56 miles from Nome with 7 dogs. Fellow rookie Hunter Keefe is in 10th, but he is still in White Mountain with 7 dogs 77 miles away.
Lots of teams will have finished by tomorrow morning, but long time before the race ends. 2 teams, rookie Jed Stephenson and veteran Eric Kelly are both in Unalakleet on the south side of Norton Sound and Jason Mackey pulled out of Unalakleet a little while ago. They are 261 and 252 miles from Nome.
Wishing all the teams a safe arrival.
Matt Hall pulls in with 7 dogs at 5:21 PM local time/9:21 east coast. Captures his first top 5 finish.
And after I had just said it would be real tough for Jessie Holmes to catch Kelly Maixner for 5th place, he has done it. Had a blazing fast run from White Mountain to Safety at almost 9.5 mph compared to Kelly's just above 6.9 mph. Kelly still had the lead out of Safety, but Jessie passed him on the final leg and is now 9 miles from Nome vs. 11 for Kelly. Watching the replay on the GPS it looked like he was going twice as fast at times. Will see if he can hold on.
Burke Jr. now way ahead of Hunter Keefe for rookie of the year. 39 miles out from Nome vs. 76.
Jessie Holmes takes 5th place, arriving unofficially/by my computer at 7:9 Alaska/11:9 east coast with 10 dogs in harness.
Kelly Maixner should be arriving soon, but I think I'm going to bed. Good night all.
FYI, mentioned earlier that they have to do a sled check at the end. The things you need to have on your sled are shown below with full link here: https://iditarod.com/edu/packing-the-sled/
"Here is a list of mandatory gear:
Proper cold weather sleeping bag
One pair of snowshoes
Any Iditarod Trail Committee promotional material – this used to be "Trail Mail" in honor of the Iditarod Trail being the route dog teams would help deliver mail to the interior of Alaska
Eight booties for each dog in the sled or in use
One operational cooker and pot capable of boiling at least three gallons of water at one time
Veterinarian notebook, to be presented to the veterinarian at each checkpoint
Functional, non-chafing harness for each dog in the team and a functional neckline
When leaving a checkpoint, adequate emergency dog food must be on the sled"
Wednesday morning, March 15.
Top 10 have all reached Nome safely.
(1) Ryan Redington
(2) Pete Kaiser
(3) Richie Diehl
(4) Matt Hall
(5) Jessie Holmes
(6) Kelly Maixner
(7) Eddie Burke Jr. - rookie of the year
(8) Matthew Failor
(9) Mille Porslid
(10) Wade Marrs
Rookie Hunter Keefe is out of White Mountain with 8 dogs and 50 miles from Nome
Several teams are at White Mountain completing the mandatory 8 hour layover there.
At the back of the race, the final 6 mushers are resting at Shaktoolik and getting set for the trip across the sea ice to Koyuk. This includes:
Rookie Gerhardt Thiart - he was caught by the bad storm last year and had to scratch just before Nome
Rookie Bridget Watkins she was caught by the bad storm last year and had to scratch just before Nome
Rookie Bailey Vitello
Rookie Jed Stephens - officially in the red lantern position as he was the last to Nome
Eric Kelly just scratched in Shaktoolik, becoming the 4th to withdraw from the race. From just a few minutes ago on the Iditarod site:
"Veteran musher Eric Kelly (bib #17), of Knik, Alaska, scratched at 12:50 a.m. today at the Shaktoolik checkpoint which was in the best interest of his team. Eric had 10 dogs in harness when he scratched, all in good health."
Some of those teams have been at Shaktoolik for a long time. Guessing many or all of them are planning on crossing Norton sound together as a group. I know I'd never want to try that trip alone.
Weather report say -4 F in Kokuk with 14 mph winds and -1 in Shaktoolik with 13 mph winds, so winds okay on shore. No idea what they are out on the ice though.
As I had guessed, all 6 of them in Shaktoolik pulled out within 8 minutes of each other, from 12:52-1 PM Alaska/4:52-5 PM east coast. All 6 are within 3 miles of each other crossing a peninsula before reaching the sea ice according to the GPS. Some will probably come the whole rest of the way together, but we will see.
4 more teams are past Safety Roadhouse and closing in on Nome. Should arrive within a few hours.
Wednesday evening, March 15.
Top 15 mushers have arrived in Nome with 14 still on the trail. Aaron Peck was the latest to finish, pulling into Nome with 8 dogs at 6:15 PM Alaska/10:15 east coast. Next musher is Kattie Jo Deeter, 23 miles from Nome. She was 1 of the 3 people (along with Gerhardt and Bridget listed below) who got caught in the storm last year just before Nome and had to scratch. Hopefully will finish in a few hours.
Final 6 continue to approach Koyuk. Bailey Vitello (11 dogs), Gerhardt Thiart (10 dogs) and Joanna Jagow (11 dogs) have crossed Norton Sound and are back on land. Everyone 174 miles to Nome. Bridget Watkins (11 dogs), Jed Stephens (11 dogs) and Jason Mackey (6 dogs) in the red lantern position are still on the sea ice from 179 to 188 miles to Nome.
Thursday morning, March 16.
17 teams are in Nome, Riley Dyche has pulled out of Safety with 8 dogs 16 miles from Nome and Ramey Smyth has reached Safety with 7 dogs, 22 miles from Nome. Both should be arriving later this morning Alaska time. Could be after noon east coast.
Deke Naaktgeboren has completed his 8 hour layover in White Mountain and is running with 12 dogs 67 miles to Nome. 3 teams, the twins Kristy and Anna Berington and Michael Williams are still in White Mountain completing their layover. Expect all to be in Nome today if nothing bad happens.
Further back, the last 6 appear to be going in teams. Bailey Vitello and Joanna Jagow both left Koyuk with 11 dogs each at 11:33 PM Alaska/3:33 AM east coast and have been running close together since. Gerhardt Thrait (10 dogs) and Bridgette Watkins (11 dogs) both left at 11:53 PM Alaska/3:53 AM east coast and have been running together since. Given they both went through the massive storm and injuries together last year, makes sense they are sticking together now. Jed Stephenson and Jason Mackey are both still in Koyuk. Jed arrived with 11 dogs, but Mackey is down to 6. Jason had a slow crossing and I'm wondering if he will need to scratch with only 6 dogs and still 171 miles to go.
Teams in or near Koyuk will probably not arrive in Nome until the weekend given the 8 hour stay at White Mountain.
Thursday evening, March 16 and things are winding down. 22 teams have made it to Nome and 7 are on the trail.
Michael Williams Jr. has passed through Safety and is running with 7 dogs, 20 miles from Nome. Should arrive tonight.
Joanna Jagow and Bailey Vitello both reached White Mountain with 11 dogs at 3:04 PM Alaska/7:04 east coast. 77 miles to go. They will be eligible to leave at 11:04 PM Alaska/3:04 AM tomorrow east coast. Should be in Nome tomorrow if all goes well.
Bridgett Watkins and Gerhardt Thiart reached Elim together, rested for just over 6 hours, and pulled out together at 12:05 PM Alaska/4:05 east coast with 11 and 10 dogs respectively. Thairt is now 86 miles from Nome and Watkins is 92, so they have separated a little bit. Chance they will finish Friday as well.
Jason Mackey is running with 5 dogs 118 miles to Nome and Jed Stephenson is in the red lantern position with 11 dogs 120 miles to Nome.
Friday morning, March 17. Looks like everyone may finish today and I was pessimistic when I thought it might not be until Saturday.
23 teams are into Nome.
Bailey Vitello and Joanna Jagow are out of White Mountain and running together 46 miles to Nome. Vitello with 11 dogs and Jagow with 9.
Gerhardt Thiart and Bridgette Watkins pulled out of White Mountain at 2:40 AM and 2:44 AM, respectively (6:40 and 6:44 AM east coast). GPS distance from Nome still lists them in White Mountain, but the leader board and GPS map clearly have them on the trail just outside of White Mountain and resting their teams there. Thiart with 10 dogs and Watkins with 11.
Jed Stephenson with 11 dogs and Jason Mackey with 5 pulled into White Mountain at 10:16 and 10:17 PM last night Alaska (2:16 and 2:18 AM today east coast). Will be eligible to leave at 6:16 and 6:17 AM Alaska/10:16 and 10:17 AM east coast. Will see if they arrive today or tomorrow.
I thought 6 dogs was the minimum?
I did too. It used to be. Not sure when the rule got changed. A few years ago, you could start with up to 16 and it was dropped to 14. Maybe this was adjusted at the same time, but I am not sure.
Jed Stephenson just pulled into Nome. 1 more team on the trail. Jason Mackey about 10 miles away.
At an unofficial of 5:03 PM Alaska time/9:03 PM east coast, Jason Mackey pulls into Nome with 5 dogs, claiming the Red Lantern as the final finisher. He also brought some of his brother Lance's ashes across the finish line.
Lance was a 4 time Iditarod winner as well as a winner of the Yukon Quest. No one had ever won both races in the same year. Will update with an official time in a bit when we have it.
Edit: apparently Lance was left at White Mountain.
Edit #2: Jason just found out that, yesterday, he became a grandpa!
Official time finishing is 5:03 PM Alaska time/9:03 PM east coast with 5 dogs. Total time of 12 days, 2 hours, 13 minutes and 7 seconds. For reference, Ryan Redington's winning time was 8 days, 21 hours, 12 minutes and 58 seconds.
Thanks for doing this again Frosty! I for one was following your updates the whole way
Seconded, thanks for keeping us up to date again Frosty'sDad!
You are both more than welcome. Glad people have enjoyed it.
What I am dying to hear is an interview with Pete Kaiser about why he stayed in Koyuk so long after Ryan Redington pulled out. He had closed the gap to almost nothing and was said to have a really powerful team, but he allowed Ryan to build up an insurmountable lead. Was figuring he or his team was having some problem, but I never heard anything. Saw interviews posted with Redington and the 3rd place finisher Diehl, but nothing from Kaiser.