Sunday, April 9, 2023

Jessie Holmes wins the 2023 Kobuk 440

Jessie Holmes and team at the restart of Iditarod 51.
March 5, 2023. Willow, Alaska.
Jessie Holmes finished the Kobuk 440 at 8:38am Sunday morning, two hours ahead of the next team making him this year's champion. The musher from Interior Alaska started fast and stayed close to the front throughout the race. The team came into the finish line in Kotzebue in a strong trot with tails wagging as they came to a stop. Weather reports from boots on the ground claimed the team finished with windchill bringing the temps down to -45F! The frosty musher pulled snacks out of his iced up sled bag and quickly fed the dogs before signing off the trail. With very little fanfare the team turned around and ran back down the trail about 100 yards to their host home.

Second place may have been a little more exciting as Richie Diehl and team raced most of Saturday taking down the teams in front of him. Diehl ran down Hugh Neff to gain third place last night, and in the wee hours of the morning overtook Michelle Phillips. The musher from Aniak closes strong in the Kobuk often and is making it a habit to come in second in a highly competitive field. Back home, Richie's young son kept up with the race and his mom shared the most adorable pic of the babe during tummy time following the tracker on facebook

Diehl came in at 11:33 Sunday morning, just over an hour ahead of third place Michelle Phillips. Hugh Neff came in at 12:54pm with rookie Bailey Vitello rounding out the top five. Jeff Deeter has also finished. There are six teams still on the trail, with two currently on their way into the finish. The back of the pack are all in he final checkpoint of Selawik. Windchill is still keeping temps at very cold levels, and the other race happening this weekend (The Arctic Championship Series) had their third and final leg canceled today due to the winds (sprint races need warmer temps). Lots of frosty pictures of race judges all over social media today.

Typically the Kobuk is plagued by storms, so this year's cold temps and wind are a nice reprieve from the ground storms that seemingly come out of nowhere. With the negative temps along the way, the trail set up nicely for a fast race. The final six will continue to run throughout the night and the race should wrap up nicely early Monday - well ahead of the musher banquet Monday night.

Who do you have coming in as the red lantern? Did you pick this year's winner? Comment with your thoughts about the race below! 

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