Saturday, March 30, 2024

2024 Kobuk 440 musher roster

As South Central and Interior Alaska becomes a mushy, muddy mess, the Arctic is hanging onto winter and teams are eager to have one final hurrah before Spring truly sets in. The finale of the mid-distance season is upon us and there's a healthy roster on its way to the starting line. The roster is heavy on the mushers from outside the Kotzebue area, with many of the teams being the "new veterans" of dog mushing. 

Also on the roster are two of the three mushers who ended their Iditarod prematurely due to dog deaths - choosing to use the Kobuk as a sort of healing with their team of dogs who deserve to continue running. There are rookies working on finishing their Iditarod qualifiers, and others just wanting to wet their feet (hopefully not literally) in racing.

 Like all of these rosters on the blog, the kennels are represented along with the links of the musher's website and socials. The roster is currently organized alphabetically and will be edited with Bib numbers once they are announced.

Bailey VitelloTeam BaileyWebsiteFacebookInstagram
Eddie Burke, Jr.Off the Rails RacingWebsiteFacebookInstagram
Emily FordShameless HuskiesWebsiteFacebookInstagram
Hunter KeefeRedington's Mush AlaskaWebsiteFacebookInstagram
Isaac TeafordDallas Seavey RacingWebsiteFacebookInstagram
Jessi DowneyAimaagvik KennelFacebookInstagram
Jessie HolmesCan't Stop Racing KennelWebsiteFacebookInstagram
Jim BourquinOrion KennelFacebookInstagram
Kevin HansenHansen KennelFacebookInstagram
Tony BrowningWildstyle RacingFacebookInstagram

Who do you hope to see take home the top prize? Who are you cheering for? Comment below with your thoughts!

If you like what you see and want to support my addiction (I mean HOBBY) of following these races and stalking (I mean cheering on) the mushers, you can buy me a slice of pizza (that really goes to paying for my internet/web expenses).

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Last team reaches Nome

Josi Thyr's team at the restart
of Iditarod 52. March 3, 2024.
Willow, Alaska
Jeff Reid came under the burled arch to end the Iditarod 52nd running Saturday at 2:22am. The twenty-ninth and final musher of the race was awarded a red lantern and asked to extinguished the Widow's Lamp before heading off to the dog lot and a well deserved rest.

Reid had fans worried much of Friday when his team continually tried to head out from the checkpoint of Safety only to return. Reid left ahead of Severin Cathry and Joshua Robbins out of White Mountain only to watch first Robbins and then Cathry pass him out of Safety. Both Cathry and Reid had trouble getting their team to head out of that final checkpoint, but as Robbins' team left for Nome Cathry was able to follow. 

Reid's team wouldn't. The musher tried several times to get his team to get up and go. Fans went to bed that night wondering if we'd seen the red lantern come in and not get awarded when Severin Cathry finished. Would Jeff Reid get moving again? Race Judge Sebastian Schnuelle responded to fans on social media telling them he was having leader trouble, he would rest and try again "in the morning". Fans went to bed hoping that they wouldn't see another scratch.

They woke up seeing Reid was already in Nome. After "two meals and great naps in the beautiful sun" the team was ready to go again. Apparently part of the problem was a dog in heat that got the rest of the dogs a little nutty. "What a trip, man," Reid said as he crossed under the arch and was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd. He was checked in, declared rookie no more, and like that Iditarod 52 was over.

38 teams started the race, 29 finished. Most of the scratches came from the large number of rookies (as is normal), but a first time scratch for a hardened veteran surprised everyone. Each team  has their own stories of the trail. We'll get to read them and hear them in the coming days. 

Tomorrow the 29 who finished will be celebrated at the banquet, awards will be given, and then by Monday Nome will get her town back, the Burled Arch will go back to it's spot off to the side to wait for next year. Everyone will fly home and the IditaSlump will commence. 

Now, for fans at home, it's an empty map. No more green and orange flags moving up the blue line. No more glitches. No more refresh, Refresh, REFRESH! No more waking up at all hours to check where their favorite musher is. No more - we hope - harrowing tales of angry moose, bison, or musk ox on the trail. Fans will have to go back to "regular life" similar to how the mushers will. What to do?

We still have the T-Dog and Kobuk440 races to look forward to for our tracker addiction, and then it will turn towards summer. Two weeks goes by way too fast in comparison to the whole 50 weeks of waiting for it. There will be puppies, and glaciers, and fishing, and lots of weeks with no updates from teams. And then the last Saturday in June will come around and the next season will begin with the Iditarod sign ups.

And the obsession will start up again.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Four rookies on their way to Nome, one stuck in Golovin

Friday looks to be the last day on the trail for Iditarod 2024 - unless one team can somehow reboot and charge up to White Mountain soon. Three rookies are making their way into the final checkpoint of Safety, one just left white mountain, and the final team has been in the former checkpoint of Golovin for over 24 hours.

Lauro Edlund leads the final flight into Safety with Sevy Cathry and Jeff Reid close behind. The three have traveled most of the trail together and no doubt will continue to do so all the way to the arch. As they leave the checkpoint it will be just a little more coastal run before climbing their final mountain of Cape Nome. Then a run along a road, one final river crossing, a run along the beach and then up onto Front Street where the burled arch and a belt buckle awaits.

Joshua Robbins left White Mountain around 8:45am. As officials counted down he went through a similar ritual to what he did back on Willow Lake a week an a half ago. As he stood on the back of his sled the team broke out into a loud and happy "dogsong". The team's battle cry only stiffled when the official said go and the musher didn't let them leave - he was still trying to put on his parka. The judgemental looks of the team were comical, but they were soon on their way "nice and steady".

Robbins will have to wait a while to find out if he's the Red Lantern this year or not (assuming he makes it to Nome, and why wouldn't he?) as Sean Williams has not scratched yet even after being hung up in Golovin. The three time Iditarod rookie is once again seeing his hope of finishing dashed as his team reportedly will not go out onto the Sea Ice of Golovin Bay. The dogs are still energetic and have been rides to children of Golovin to make the most of their time in the former checkpoint.

Golovin was a checkpoint of the Iditarod for many years, but as teams were able to run further between checkpoints and with the mandatory 8 of White Mountain being the next stop, Golovin became a memory. Until this year. It's an unplanned stop for one team, and it will no doubt be a memory for all. Williams' team reported that he would try one more time this morning, but with little movement on the tracker it's unsure if they will ever get moving.

The Iditarod is coming to a close quickly. It was one of extreme lows and highs. 38 teams left the starting line March 3, and it may have 30 finishes. It's not over quite yet and cheering in the final teams is something every fan should be excited to do.

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Ten teams still on the trail

All eyes have turned to "the back of the pack" today as the final ten teams continue to make their way to the finish line. Like most years the back is filled with Iditarod rookies, though the team closest to Nome at the moment is Iditarod Veteran Anna Berington. The teams stretch from just before Safety to just outside of Elim. If all goes well all teams will be in by Friday evening.

Fans have been puzzled at the slow movement of Bryce Mumford who finally made it to Unalakleet Wednesday night. The tracker shows him resting at the airport in the Coastal town. Current standings have not updated to showing him as checked in. So just what is going on? ITC has been silent.

Experience suggests Mumford's race has come to an end, either by scratch or withdrawal for lack of competitiveness. It seems harsh, but logistically he is at least two days behind the rest of the teams at the rate he's gone the last several days. They cannot keep volunteers who have jobs and lives to get back to in checkpoints indefinitely. It also becomes a danger to the team to be alone out on the trail. Yes, trail sweeps will follow along, but again it's a volunteer crew.

The ITC typically updates faster than it has here, and so one can only wonder if the PR team finally got some sleep after a long race and the announcement is just delayed. Here's hoping someone speaks soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Top Ten and then some are in!

Only three teams came in on Tuesday, but Nome has been a steady stream of top teams coming under the burled arch Wednesday. By Noon the top ten had been completed, and at the time this blog posts fifteen total are into Nome.

While no record times were made last night with Dallas Seavey's win (he DID break the record of most wins, so it's still a big deal), it seems the champion lucked out and outran the storm that hit the infamous blow hole later that night and into the morning. The storm steadily grew Wednesday with many of the mushers reporting winds nearing hurricane force.

For the first time in Iditarod history four women found themselves in the top ten. This year's Rookie of the Year broke the top fifteen. It's quite possible that the most improved musher as well as fastest run from Safety to Nome are also going to be awarded to mushers who are already finished.

All three of the returning Iditarod Champions made it to Nome by Wednesday night. Each champion having their stories to tell of trials and triumphs. 

Coming in second was Matt Hall at 9:57pm Tuesday. Hall was third coming into Elim, but managed to catch and pass Jessie Holmes in the checkpoint. Holmes chose to stay and Hall chose to keep going. Hall said he and the dogs trained for this exact push just days before the start of the race. Long days of being awake. The Silver Aces kennel had their best placement yet in Iditarod. Hall said his goal for this race was to beat last year's time, ironically he came in four hours slower than last year but came away with second place. (And Dallas Seavey won with close to the same time as Matt's finishing time last year!)

Jessie Holmes was next in third place at 11:18pm Tuesday. Holmes led or stayed in the top five for much of the race and especially made his move on the Yukon River. The musher had some of the top speeds in the first two legs of the race, but with his young team he decided to not push too hard on the coast. He was first into Unalakleet before never seeing the lead again. He stayed with Dallas and Matt for as long as he could, and was in second all the way until Elim. Seavey would say of Holmes that his team would flat out beat him in a speed race.

Fourth place was a challenge with three teams jockeying for that placement, but Jeff Deeter managed to take the prize in the end coming in at 2:52am Wednesday. Deeter had a difficult first half of the race with dogs who weren't eating or feeling well. He babied them along and by the time they hit the river Deeter saw they were ready to make up for lost time. And make up time he did. Deeter left after Travis Beals and managed to get a commanding lead on Beals well before they made it to the final checkpoint of Safety.

Fifth was Paige Drobny came in at 4:12am. Drobny picked off many top teams all along the way but made herself known to the competition on the Yukon. Paige and Deeter battled hard out of White Mountain before settling into their eventual placements. Drobny and The Squids looked happy and ready for more at the finish line.

Travis Beals finished in sixth Wednesday at 5:39am. Beals ended up fighting off the flu in the first leg of the race before pushing through and leading the race for over 300 miles. It wasn't until Beals and the Turning Heads kennel dogs were on the run to Unalakleet that Travis' race began to slow. Beals was hit by very cold weather and an eye injury he sustained in the fall during training reared its ugly head. For the rest of the race Travis spent much of it using only one eye having to keep his right eye shut. Travis was also in a very new position of leading the Iditarod and came away with much experience from this race.

Seventh place went to Mille Porsild at 8:23am. Mille's race almost didn't happen. She lost her mother earlier in the season and spent time away from training her team. She starts the race and is hit with a bout of pancreatitis. Porsild spent much of her mandatory 24 hour layover in the community health center and it looked like her race would be over. Thankfully she got the go ahead from the medical staff at the center and the race officials to continue. She told her team back home she would take the race one checkpoint at a time. Fans could tell Mille was feeling a tad better when she started making her way back toward the front. Mushers. They're made of some really tough stuff.

An hour later Amanda Otto placed eighth at 9:24am. Otto continues to prove herself a worthy competitor as a musher. Otto found quite the challenge on the final part of her race. Otto left White Mountain with Jessie Royer and Pete Kaiser. As she hit the area known as "The Blowhole" she was met with hurricane like winds. The Husky Homestead musher experienced similar conditions to that of what her mentor Jeff King experienced 10 years ago. Like King she balled her team up and tried to wait out the storm. Thankfully Kaiser came upon her and helped her get her team moving again.

Peter Kaiser came in behind in 9th place at 9:30am, sharing the chute with Otto. Kaiser told of the harrowing morning he had coming across Otto and then finding Jessie Royer off the trail and having to wave his headlight her way so she could find her way back. The 2019 Iditarod Champion said it was the scariest moment on the Iditarod he's ever had. He approximated the wind to be going at least 60mph. Pete was greeted by his family and was all smiles seeing the familiar faces.

Rounding out the top ten was Jessie Royer at 9:49am. The trio staying close together all the way to the end of the race. Royer seemed thrilled if not a little relieved as she came into the finish. The Cowgirl Musher was greeted in the chute by friends and family and immediately handed a bottle of Mountain Dew which she eagerly grabbed before wrapping the giver in a giant hug. This was her 21st Iditarod. 

Then there was a huge gap before the next wave came into Nome Wednesday afternoon.

Wally Robinson was 11th at 2:22pm. Wally wasn't planning on running Iditarod, but when Josh McNeal broke his collarbone McNeal didn't want his team to not go on Iditarod. McNeal asked Robinson would take his team to Nome. Robinson had last been on the Iditarod in 2001 and was really more involved now as "Emily's Dad". Yeah, that Emily. The only who is tied for most Jr. Iditarod wins. Robinson is most definitely in the running for most improved musher as his placement in 2001 was 40th.

Nicolas Petit battled for 12th place and came in at 4:32pm. It's been a rough season for Petit with many factors holding his team back from its usual wins in middistance races. It seems those struggles continued for Petit for much of the race, but like always he managed to pick up the pace from Safety to Nome and currently holds the fastest time from Safety to Nome (which is awarded to the speediest team on that final section in the top 20). Petit seems to be the new king of that award.

Thirteenth place went to the musher with the same bib number, Matthew Failor at 5:35pm. Failor was greeted by many family and friends in the chute. When asked what it was like not to have his wife Liz on the trail this year (she has worked with Insider the last few races) he said he got things done a lot faster in checkpoints because she wasn't constantly asking him to talk to the camera. Failor was carrying the ashes of a dog named Angel who ran Iditarod in both Martin Buser's team as well as Matt's first couple of Iditarods. When Angel retired Matthew's parents adopted the dog, they asked him to take Angel out on the trail one last time. Failor said they stopped and spread Angel in "all the cool spots."

The 2023 Iditarod Champion Ryan Redington came in 14th at 8:48pm. Redington had a hard time getting his team to come together and by the coast it was clear his dogs just weren't feeling it. The champion musher decided to regroup and just make it to Nome and not push them to do more. It was a good thing it happened as Ryan was tasked with finishing a mission first given to Aaron Burmeister. Burmeister was carrying the ashes of one of the Iditarod legends Howard Farley - a Nome resident who helped get the race off the ground - and when Aaron scratched in Unalakleet he asked Ryan to get Howard home. Aaron met Ryan in the chute and together they brought Howard home to Nome.

And at 9:43pm Wednesday the Rookie of the Year Josi Thyr made her way into the finish with tears in her eyes. Completing the Iditarod was a lifelong dream for Thyr who started her mushing career as a kid in Oregon. She was mentored by some of the greats of Iditarod like Jessie Royer and Aaron Burmeister who were both in the chute to welcome her to the finishers club. 

There are more teams coming in later tonight and into tomorrow morning. The back of the pack still have a ways to go as they are in Koyuk (with a lone musher still trying to make his way to Unalakleet tonight, here's hoping Bryce Mumford gets his pizza). The race is far from over and each finisher will have stories to share and tell. It's hard to believe we've come to this part of the race where just a few teams are left to come home, but here we are. The lantern will be extinguished before we know it and our focus will start to shift to sign ups in June (though most mushers will be thinking of tourist season).

Oh, to be in Nome tonight.

Now is no time to stop!

"The winner came in, why are you still posting about Iditarod?"

While the Iditarod is first and foremost a race to see who can finish first, it's a feat many of us will never even attempt much less achieve. And, just like after the Superbowl we immediately start talking about Free Agency and the Draft, Iditarod does not end just because there is a winner.

There are currently seven teams sitting in Nome, finished with the task, and there are three more charging down the home stretch to make up the top ten. No, seriously, Otto and Kaiser are pretty neck and neck on the GPS tracker and Jessie Royer ain't too far behind! 

behind them are 22 teams making their way. Each one has their own reason for running the Iditarod. They all have their stories of overcoming obstacles just to get to the starting line. All of them have a deep love and bond with the dogs in front of their sled. 

All are worth following to the end. There are races within the race and there are stories of overcoming adversity. Why would we just stop at one story when there are so many behind it?

Good luck to all of the teams currently out on the trail. We're here cheering you all into Nome!

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

No one has won it more

Dallas Seavey and his string of ten dogs that are "all heart" rode into Nome at 5:16:08pm Tuesday. The 37 year old musher cheered and pumped his arms as he ran alongside the sled into the chute. With a crowd cheering and speakers blasting the announcer's words to the crowd the little dog team that could hardly seemed phased.

It's been a tough season for Seavey. In November during a training run with Seavey, Isaac Teaford, and handler Josiah Liebe a snow machine drove into the team driven by Liebe. Several dogs were killed while three were injured with life altering injuries. Josiah was driving a team filled with Dallas' core Iditarod team and it was suddenly gone. On top of that were the horrible sounds and visions of the carnage Dallas came upon when he got word that the team behind him had been hit. It wasn't something you just shrug and move on with.

Seavey borrowed dogs from his father, three-time Iditarod Champion Mitch Seavey, and rebuilt the team and plan for the race season. He tested them out on the Copper Basin. He tweaked the roster. He tweaked the game plan. Everything was plugging along, but he just wasn't getting the same vibe from the team as in years past. They weren't the machine (or monster as his other teams were called) he was used to.

Iditarod start weekend rolled around and his game face was on. He looked prepared but he hedged his bets in interviews. He wasn't yes we're going to win, it was yes we're going to make damn sure we do everything we can to be in the mix so that if we can get position to win we can. Then a moose ran into the team not even 12 hours later. A dog was critically injured. Dallas had some sort of mental shift and he "lost his head" and didn't do what he thought he did. He didn't communicate properly with officials. He didn't gut the moose properly. He leaves the injured dog that he thinks just has a deep cut in Finger Lake with the race vets and by Rainy Pass he's getting a call asking if he wants them to perform surgery on the dog. What?!

In McGrath he's told that race officials convened and determined he did not gut the moose sufficiently, he was assessed a two-hour penalty that would be tacked onto his mandatory 24hour rest. What was supposed to be a 25 hour rest was now going to be 27 hours. He would be two hours behind. He accepted all of this and moved forward. In Cripple on his 24 he conceded he probably wasn't going to win this year, he was hoping for fifth.

When asked at the finish line how he came back from being five hours behind the leader out of Cripple to winning by three or more hours Dallas explained he has two sides. "There's the side of just taking care of the dogs and getting to the next checkpoing, and then my analytical side where I am analizing and studying everything." He said when he did the numbers and realized he had a chance, he took it.

"I knew that to win six it was going to have to be hard. You can't win six and it be easy. It can't be not special." Dallas spoke after he came into Nome acknowledging that while his first one will always be the most special, number six just may always be the hardest. He spoke of dogs that maybe weren't the cohesive team he was used to but they were all heart. He choked up mentioning the hard season, what he and the team and his kennel have been through. What they are still going through.

Rick Swenson held the record of most wins for 30 years before Dallas matched it in 2021. Rick's last win wasn't a pretty one either. It was hard. And it was in a time when you didn't have an Insider camera watching your every move in a checkpoint or a GPS tracker attached to your sled. There's a reason why Jeff King would tweet out to Tom Brady the year Brady won his fifth - but at the time it didn't look like it as he was down by 25 points or so - "The fifth one's a Bitch!". 

It was said that the record would never be matched or broken. For 30 years that rang true. Then it was, well, you can match it, but you won't break it. And now here we are. Six wins in. Dallas has grown up a lot in the 12 years since his first. He's become even wiser, even more wise in how this all shakes down. 

What hasn't changed is the love for the race and his dogs. It was evident as he made his way to the finish line. His tradition of stopping the dogs on the beach before the hustle and bustle of town to thank each dog. To take in the sights, the sounds, the smells - the quiet before the media storm. 

It was evident as he waved to everyone lining Front Street shouting out thank you for coming! It was evident the way he cheered his 10 dogs up into the chute. The way he immediately went to each dog telling them good job and thank you. The laughter and joking he had with the checker (hi Nicolle!). The smiles, the cheers, everything about it was just so Dallas Seavey that kid all those years ago watching his dad come into Nome. Getting excited for Iditarod every year. Hero worshipping the mushers who came before him.

Now Dallas Seavey has been declared the Greatest Of All Time in the sport of Iditarod. Number six was a bitch, but if anyone could do it with as much grit and determination as it takes, it's Dallas. Dallas Seavey.

"THANK YOU! See you in Nome!"

Dallas Seavey pulled the hook at 7:53am in White Mountain and his team of 10 Alaskan Huskies trotted back out onto the Iditarod Trail, they have just 77 miles until they reach the finish line. Seavey has a three hour lead over current second place team of Matt Hall. Should Dallas maintain his lead he will achieve an historic sixth victory in the Last Great Race.

While it may seem like this is a runaway win for Dallas Seavey, the veteran musher knows not to celebrate just yet. Just ten years ago Dallas was third out of White Mountain following well behind the leader Jeff King who was nearly three hours ahead of Seavey. Aliy Zirkle was chosen to play spoiler having left White Mountain an hour behind King. As the trackers made their way through the Topkok Hills it looked like everything was going to stay as it was. No one was gaining, and King wasn't faltering...

...until he did. Halfway from the hills to the checkpoint of Safety King's tracker stalled. And stayed stalled. Reports came in of hurricane force winds in the Blowhole. Joe Runyan blogged that anyone out there was risking their life. A midnight, Jeff King hit his SOS button ending his race. He was blown off trail with no way to continue. Aliy Zirkle in the meantime was totally unaware of Jeff's misfortune and made it to the checkpoint of Safety completely rattled by the storm. She was advised to stay and wait until the winds died down. She had a two hour lead on Dallas and it seemed the right idea.

Then Dallas came into Safety and quickly signed out - he didn't want to be in the wind anymore than he had to be, and with no real barrier from the wind for the dogs it was better to keep moving in his opinion than sit there and wait it out. He was unaware Aliy was still there. Unaware that Jeff was not in Nome. 

Dallas won his second Iditarod that night in crazy dramatic fashion.

A similar storm hit in 2022, Dallas didn't win that year, but he came awfully close to it. We can sit and rehash the fairness of Brent Sass getting a message on his InReach device telling him to get moving as Dallas was still moving while Sass hunkered down to wait out the storm, but it's done and over with. Sass managed to hold Dallas off, but again Dallas proved that while one team is stuck in the final leg another can make progress. If anyone knows that the race ain't over in White Mountain, it's Seavey.

Faster finishes from White Mountain to Nome take 10 hours, sometimes they can take 11 to 12 hours. If Dallas manages to stay first and doesn't get stalled in the Topkok Hills or The Blowhole outside of Safety, look for a finish around 5:30pm AKST tonight.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Seavey 8 miles to White Mountain

Dallas Seavey pulled away from the lead pack Sunday in Unalakleet and never looked back. While not running a blistering pace, the five-time Iditarod champion will be into White Mountain close to Midnight at the rate he's traveling.

The next teams are still two hours or more behind him. 

While it's still 77 miles to Nome from White Mountain, Seavey is in very good position at this point. Still, we all remember what happened 10 years ago when Jeff King had a run away lead going into White Mountain only to get blown horribly off course in the blowhole on his way to the final checkpoint of safety. The Iditarod Legend had to hit his SOS button and end his race. Dallas Seavey unknowingly won his second Iditarod win later that morning.

It's still a dog race, and it's still anyone's game, but right now it looks to be Seavey's to lose.

Seavey continues to distance himself

Dallas Seavey is now twenty miles ahead of the chase duo of Jessie Holmes and Matt Hall. The five-time champion checked into Elim at 5:30 and spent only four minutes in the checkpoint. Seavey no doubt will stop and feed the dogs on the trail, but it's clear his plan to run straight through to White Mountain where an 8 hour mandatory rest awaits each team.

Jessie Holmes and Matt Hall are duking it out for second and both content with that idea. Holmes in Koyuk this morning told Insider he didn't expect to see Dallas again until White Mountain. Both Holmes and Hall have put up fast speeds on the leg to Elim and should be into the checkpoint soon.

Travis Beals is solidly in fourth and his kennel partner and wife Sarah Stokey reports that he is happy with where he is and that he wants to maintain the gap between his team and the chase pack. That pack is currently being led by Paige Drobny and Jeff Deeter who left Koyuk in the late afternoon. The rest of the top ten sit in Koyuk having just arrived in the last hour and a half and all have elected to stay in the checkpoint.

This afternoon another team chose to end their race early in Unalakleet. 21-time finisher Aaron Burmeister chose to scratch to preserve the mental health and wellness of his team and for the future. This brings the total number of scratches to six, two more than the total number of scratches from last year's race.

Seavey's lead grows as he blows through Koyuk

While it's still nearly two hundred miles to go, so very premature to call the race now, it looks like Dallas Seavey is on his way to making history again this year. While some may roll their eyes and grumble about him winning again, there's still a lot that can happen to stop that from happening in Iditarod 52. 

Dallas pulled into Koyuk officially at 7:11am and immediately got to work opening up drop bags and packing his batsled. Seavey informed the crew in the checkpoint he was not going to stay but keep going towards Elim. He grabbed straw and attached it to his sled. He moved quickly and decidedly, and at 7:23am he was off again heading toward the shelter cabin fifteen-ish miles up the trail where it is believed he will camp for a time before going through Elim and on to White Mountain and his final 8 hour mandatory rest. 

Dallas gained at least another half hour on Jessie Holmes in this run across the sea ice. Holmes is running barely a mile ahead of Matt Hall on the Norton Sound and should be into Koyuk by 9am. It's anyone's guess if either will stay or go. If they stay, Dallas' lead will continue to grow. If they go through we may very well have ourselves a dog race to the finishline.

The chase pack is into Shaktoolik and out on the Norton Sound. Lots of leap frogging which makes for an exciting race for the top twenty positions (especially the top ten)!

In sadder news, fan favorite Hunter Keefe has scratched in Unalakleet according to a statement released by Iditarod early Monday morning. Keefe scratched pursuant to rule 42 (expired dog). This is the second rule 42 scratch in Iditarod 52. Keefe was on his way to having another close to top ten finish in the Iditarod and had 10 dogs in harness when he scratched. 

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Seavey blows in and out of Shaktoolik with commanding lead

Dallas Seavey and team at the ReStart.
Willow, AK. March 3, 2024
In a turn of events today that not many saw coming, Dallas Seavey reminded everyone how he became only the second musher in race history to win five times. Seavey, who had very little chance by most estimates to lead at all after the halfway point now has a solid lead of over an hour over the next team Sunday evening.

The five-time champion checked in at 9:13pm and spent enough time in the checkpoint to grab some gear out of his drop bags, some straw, and send a pup home. Seavey was second into the first coastal checkpoint of Unalakleet but chose to continue up the trail leaving Jessie Holmes to rest alone until the chase pack caught up Sunday morning. Seavey chose to camp on the trail for a couple of hours on the way to Shak. The strategy put at least a good hour between him and Jessie Holmes once Holmes got up and continued on.

The winds are ripping on the coast as they almost always do and some reports have the hills between Unalakleet and Shaktoolik as being especially difficult with the wind blowing right at the teams. Seavey's team are still quite peppy after running in the wind all day and they will no doubt have more as they head out onto the sea ice. It is a good bet that Dallas will camp about 11 miles out of the checkpoint at a shelter cabin popular with many mushers before continuing across the Norton Sound and into the Koyuk checkpoint. 

Unalakleet is busy tonight with many teams choosing the take a nice long break between the snow berms made for windbreaks for the teams - plus there's some really yummy pizza waiting for just about every musher thanks to fans and friends calling in pizza orders to be delivered as the teams come in. Peace on Earth Pizza watches teh tracker and makes the pizza fresh to meet the teams soon after they come in. 

Unfortunately it's not all good news tonight. Four teams have had to scratch Sunday. The first was Erin Altemus who unfortunately had a team not quite mentally prepared for the cold winds on the Yukon and for the good of her team she chose to end her race early. Isaac Teaford had to scratch after the passing of his dog Bog in the checkpoint of Nulato. While it is unclear why the dog died, all teams that have a dog death (unless clear that it was out of musher control like an animal or snowmachine attack) must scratch or be withdrawn. Connor McMahon, another rookie, also chose to scratch today in Galena out of concern for his team - but there is no word as to what it was exactly. Finally, Deke Naaktgeboren reported having issues on the river out of Nulato today as his dogs were unnerved by the popping and shifting of the river ice. After returning to Nulato where they rested a few hours, the veteran decided to end their race early.

Jessie Holmes is about four miles to Shaktoolik. It will be interesting to see what he chooses to do once he realizes Dallas didn't stay. Monday it will be all about crossing the Norton sound for the lead and middle of the pack.

Isaac Teaford's dog unexpectedly passes outside of Nulato

The Iditarod issued a statement Sunday afternoon informing of a dog death in this year's race. Bog, a two-year old male out of Dallas Seavey's kennel running in Isaac Teaford's team, collapsed coming into the checkpoint of Nulato. Iditarod vets sprang into action, performing life saving measures on the dog for twenty minutes but were unable to revive the dog.

The cause of death is unknown. The body will be transported to Anchorage for a necropsy to determine cause of death. 

Read the full press release here.

Jessie Holmes first to the Coast

Jessie Holmes pulled into Unalakleet Sunday afternoon and was awarded the First to the Coast award. The musher accepted the greeting and congratulations and then parked his dog team along the snowberm built to protect teams from the constant Western Alaskan winds. 

Holmes' official time in was 12:33pm. Not long after Dallas Seavey pulled into the checkpoint in his fast paced get in and out of the checkpoint sort of way. He grabbed straw and then his drop bags and maneuvered his team close to the exit of the checkpoint. Snacking his dogs he then go to work of preparing to get out of the checkpoint. Unofficially Dallas left at 1pm. All dogs ate their snacks quickly and were barking to go.

Travis Beals and Matt Hall are about 10 miles from Unalakleet and are running close together. Still in the hunt, but it'll quickly become difficult to catch up as we just have over a couple hundred more miles from here.

It is anyone's guess how long Holmes will stay in the checkpoint. He has a team of young dogs and while they are posting impressive speeds, it does seem they need to take big breaks between these pushes.

Rookie Erin Altemus scratches in Ruby

 After 18 hours of rest in the check point, leaving only to turn around and come back, Erin Altemus' Iditarod has ended early. In a post to Facebook Sunday morning, her husband posted the news.

"Well my friends, this crazy iditarod experiment came to a screeching halt this morning and Erin had trouble leaving the checkpoint of Ruby. At that point she was in last and couldn't afford to rest her dogs anymore and get too far behind the leaders, in which she would have gotten withdrawn anyway," he wrote. "They had been dealing with some intestinal and mental issues and a tougher than normal trail. She had personally been dealing with a cold throughout the trip. The dogs and Erin are doing well and we'll get her back to Anchorage and give her lots of backrubs and love. I know she didn't give up easy and this was super tough for her. I'd like to say she'll try again but I don't really know yet. It's a huge sacrifice to get up here to the start line so we'll have to re-group and see what happens. Like they say it's just a dog race, we'll be ok, thanks for the love and support!"

Choosing to scratch is never an easy decision, but is always the right one. Even some of the greatest ever to run this race have had to make the decision. Altemus had ten dogs in harness when she chose to scratch. Musher and dogs will travel back to Anchorage via Iditarod Airforce. Erin is the first scratch of Iditarod 52.

Could we have our first scratch?

 Fans have been increasingly more excited about the lack of scratches on this year's race, however it looks like that may be coming to an end.

Rookie Erin Altimus had a super long rest in Ruby, left the checkpoint with 10 dogs, and then this morning her tracker had her backtracking to the checkpoint. 

There's no official word yet as to what may be going on. We'll have to keep watching the tracker to see which direction she goes from here.

Party at Old Woman Cabin

In a turn no ones truly predicted, the entire lead pack chose to rest at Old Woman's Cabin early this morning. Dallas Seavey was first to the cabin followed by Jessie Holmes, Travis Beals, Matt Hall, Pete Kaiser, and Paige Drobny. They didn't all come in together, but it was an interesting sight to see at the front of the Iditarod all of the potential winners huddled together waiting for the other to twitch.

At around 8:40am, though, trackers indicated Jessie Holmes was out first from the party pack.

Judging by the slow going - well under average speeds for these teams on this leg - the trail conditions must not have been ideal. Dallas Seavey led all night but managed only to make it as far as Old Woman. Travis had a four to five hour rest on everyone at his campout and yet he chose to wait until after Seavey passed to get moving, and he didn't make up any time on the five time champion.

Dallas has taken shorter rests - other than the mandatory 8 - on the Yukon to catch back up to the others and then did this push in what seems to be tough trail. It's a gamble that may or may not pay off, but it seems to be a risk Dallas was willing to take.

This is anything but normal in recent memory. Most often your leader was out on the trail all alone. Now we still don't have a clear favorite to win, and it's all guesswork. 

At 8:48am the tracker showed Dallas Seavey on the move giving chase. This is far from over, folks. Buckle up and settle in, the last leg is going to be a WILD RIDE (see what we did there?).

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Seavey makes a move

In an interesting turn of events Dallas Seavey has "cut rest" and headed back out on the trail after spending just two hours and twenty-five minutes out on the trail. The Five Time Champion has banked more time than the other front runners in part due to his two hour penalty added on to his 24 hour mandatory rest. However, Dallas and his team of fifteen dogs seemed to hit the Yukon and kick into a gear many didn't expect - at least, not realistically.

Dallas pulled the hook at 9:01pm and left Kaltag after sending three dogs home. The musher had thought about leaving them with the volunteers in Nulato, but chose to keep them in the team for the run to Kaltag, however now speed matters and the fewer dogs he has the more efficient he will be when he takes breaks out on the trail and in checkpoints.

As Dallas was pulling out of the checkpoint, Jessie Holmes was readying his team to do the same. Jessie pulled the hook forty-six minutes after Dallas and gave chase. Matt Hall also pulled the hook and left just two minutes after Holmes. 

At last glance at the GPS tracker, Travis Beals is still resting at the shelter cabin 13 miles outside of Kaltag. It's anyone's guess when he will decide to pack up and head to Unalakleet, whether he knows Dallas and Jessie and Matt are all on their way. The race to the coast looks to be a close one.

Dallas packed straw in his sled, expect the champion to camp before Unalakleet as is his habit.

It's too quiet

Kaltag got busy this afternoon as first Travis Beals and then Jessie Holmes were followed by Paige Drobny, Matt Hall, Ryan Redington, and Dallas Seavey into the checkpoint. Only Beals chose to cut and run after a quick stop to grab supplies. Beals went 13 miles up the trail and camped. 

That was this afternoon, the sun has now set and no one is moving. It seems the front runners are all still trying to preserve as much energy as possible from their teams. Dallas Seavey who was two hours behind his schedule due to a penalty given at his 24hour mandatory seemed just a day ago to not be in the running to challenge Beals, and now he's acting as though he might be the first of the chase pack to leave Kaltag. 

In the back of the race the final two teams are running into Ruby and then everyone but Beals will be on the Yukon. Beals, of course, left the river and is now on his way to Unalakleet (or will be once he stops camping).

This race is far from being determined. All of the teams resting in Kaltag (and the one camping) look phenomenal. This may be one of those races that isn't declared until the teams run up Front Street in Nome. 

First three -no, FOUR- are into Nulato

It was a long night on the Yukon for the top teams as they traveled down the wind tunnel known as the Yukon River. By 10pm the air temp was already -10 (according to Dallas Seavey's sled thermometer) and getting colder. Teams were running into Galena to meet up with Travis Beals who has a strong handle on the lead. Beals chose to take his mandatory 8 in Galena and pulled the hook at 11:24pm and found himself pulling into Nulato at 5:49pm giving him a run time of 6 hours and 25 minutes.

Dallas Seavey left Galena after a 3.5 hour rest in the checkpoint following forty minutes behind Beals. Dallas had a six minute faster run. According to commentary on the Insider it is believed Dallas will take his 8 in Nulato. Of the top 10 teams, Seavey is the only one who has yet to take his 8. This should not be surprising considering his over 27 hour break in Cripple. The team has been power charged this whole race and the longer than normal rest did not seem to slow them down (which can sometimes happen if a team isn't managed correctly).

Jessie Holmes came into Nulato at 8:15am and he ran it 10 minutes faster than Seavey. Holmes has the smallest team of the three as he is down to 11 dogs (not something to worry about), Beals has 12, and Seavey is still at 15. Holmes team looked fast and loose coming into Nulato. Holmes has taken his 8 so this shouldn't be a very long break for him.

Nulato will continue to see mushers come in Saturday morning and afternoon, and it will no doubt unnerve Seavey that he is "stuck" there as Beals and presumably Holmes take off well before he can. Beals has never had to "protect his lead" in the Iditarod, it's all new territory for Travis and he, too, will have to survive the mental gymnastics that entails.

Paige Drobny is picking off teams one by one as she goes further down the trail. She is now fourth into Nulato with a blistering pace of five hours and forty-five minutes. The Squids are definitely going to play a huge factor in how Beals and Holmes race the Coast.

At -30 on the river this morning, there's only one more checkpoint on the river before they cross over to the coast. Early Sunday should be when we see the first team hit the coast. (And, yes, folks we're to the point where you should probably order those Peace on Earth pizzas in Unalakleet for your favorite teams, and maybe some for the volunteers on the trail). 

There's no clear shake down yet, which seems a little strange. There is a huge field of contenders late in the race and it may not be until Shaktoolik that we get a better picture of how this all ends. 

In the back of the pack there was quite teh shake up last night as Calvin Daugherty turned around and went back to Cripple about two hours into his run to Ruby. According to chat fans KattiJo reported over night that Calvin had forgotten his mittens and chose to go back to get them. He is now about seven hours behind schedule and third from last place. Robbins and Mumford continue to go back and forth in the Red Lantern position.

Friday, March 8, 2024

Beals rests in Galena as chase pack moves in

Travis Beals has had the checkpoint of Galena all to himself for much of Friday afternoon having checked into the second stop on the Yukon River at 3:24pm. The musher elected not to take his 8 hour break in Ruby wanting to keep as much trail between he and the chase pack as possible. 

While Nicolas Petit sat in Ruby Friday he watched the leaders and chase pack catch him. Beals and Jessie Holmes were the first two in - but nearly three hours apart. Beals chose to head on down the trail after about four hours of rest, Holmes chose to stay and take his mandatory 8. As they rested, Paige Drobny and Ryan Redington were next in.

The two mushers on very different schedules met on the run into Ruby after Redington fell off his sled and Paige picked him up and carried him until they came up on his team. Musher and dogs fine they continued into the checkpoint with Paige taking the lead. Drobny has steadily picked off teams in this race and she doesn't look to be finished yet.

Pete Kaiser and Dallas Seavey also spent time in Ruby Friday, with the five time champion taking just under three hours resting before heading back onto the River. Pete Kaiser chose to stay for four and a half hours before following. Both Kaiser and Seavey had very strong looking teams, with Seavey's team eating everything offered to them enthusiastically.

Redington and Drobny also chose to spend 8 hours in Ruby and are now back on the trail behind Kaiser and Seavey. Aaron Burmeister looks to be taking his 8 hour as he's been in Ruby since 1:30pm ish. 

Matt Hall is 2 miles from Galena. It will be interesting to see if Beals gets up and gets moving. 

Beals leads the Iditarod

While Nic Petit enjoyed a steak dinner courtesy of Iditarod partners South and Spenard Roadhouse, Travis Beals and team continued up the trail into Ruby. The musher originally from Seward checked into Ruby at 4:48am Friday morning. Nic Petit decided to take his 24 in Ruby and cannot leave until late Friday Night, so on paper, this race is Travis Beals' to lose at this juncture.

Next behind Travis - behind by nearly three hours - is Jessie Holmes who so far seems to be having quite the race. Both teams parked and settled their team in for rest. At now 8:45am Travis is packing up getting ready to leave after about four hours of good rest for his team. 

The chase pack of Ryan Redington and Paige Drobny have pulled into Ruby and Paige gained and passed Redington into the checkpoint. 

Behind them are a second chase pack that includes Dallas Seavey.

Thursday, March 7, 2024

The leaders are on their way to Ruby


As Nicolas Petit makes his way into the checkpoint of Ruby to win his first to the Yukon Prize (which sounds super yummy again this year!), the teams behind him are strongly making their statement that they're the teams to beat. Travis Beals, Paige Drobny, and Jessie Holmes have slingshot themselves over Dallas Seavey and are now in control of the race to the Yukon. 

While Petit may be furthest along, he's also furthest behind of those out in front. Why? One simple reason, the musher has chosen to wait to take his 24 hour mandatory rest presumably in Ruby. This was the plan, the musher assured fans on Insider back in Ophir, to go as far as possible before taking the 24. He had Jeff King do just that two years ago with his team, and he's back trying it again.

There are currently five teams on the trail out of Cripple. Dallas Seavey remains in the checkpoint of Cripple preparing to leave in just over an hour when he can finally give chase to those who passed him this afternoon. Seavey spoke at length with Iditarod Insider Thursday afternoon giving the run down on just what happened with the moose and the choices he made in the aftermath of dispatching the animal. In the nearly thirteen minute interview Dallas accepts the penalty the Race Marshall handed down (which yes Dallas knew about it back in McGrath so it wasn't a surprise into Cripple), he also apologizes for not doing things properly out of shock. All in all, Dallas is ready to move on and finish strong.

It will be another exciting night of Iditarod, and for those that can watch without having to go to work in the morning: just know you are very envied.

Tomorrow the race on the Yukon begins.

Petit is going to Ruby

Nicolas Petit and team rode into Cripple Thursday morning at 7:39am AK time. Petit chose short term parking and did not declare his twenty-four. Petit has a full string of 16 dogs and stated that the current schedule he's on is one he's had planned for two years.

In an interview Wednesday with Iditarod Insider Nicolas Petit stated that when he got Covid in 2022 and was forced to sit out the race just several days before the start he asked Jeff King to take his team to Ruby for his 24. Petit said he had always wanted to get past Cripple before the long rest and that in 2022 he felt he had the team to do it. Last year, he said, he 24'd in Nikolai and that was "a big mistake."

The veteran musher quickly got to work bedding down his dogs and feeding them before wandering over to the lovely smells of bacon. Look for Nic to take a few hours of rest before continuing. Team Petit is the only team not actively taking their 24 or running with a completed 24.

In other news, Mille Porsild's social media team shared the veteran musher is battling pancreatits. She was monitored during her mandatory 24 with the caveat that race officials had to clear her before she could continue. Porsild was allowed to pull the hook, as they say, and head off down the trail. Mille's team says that she will take the race one checkpoint at a time as she continues to deal with flare ups. She currently sits in Ophir.

Mille isn't the only one dealing with illness, though probably not as extreme, Travis Beals reported to his family that he is suffering from a very bad cold (possible flu?) but that he is on antibiotics now and had hopes of bouncing back during his 24. Beals is currently out of Ophir on his way to Cripple. It seems a very bad flu bug is going around Iditarod with many of the volunteers having reported being sick as early as the Ceremonial Start (if not before).

In regards to Dallas Seavey's two-hour penalty - it seems we won't have more detail until Insider chats with Dallas later today. They wanted to give Seavey ample time to rest in Cripple before bothering him as they report he's run the race so far with very little sleep. If you aren't an insider, now might be a good time to subscribe as the race is truly underway now.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Seavey assessed a two-hour penalty for moose kill

The Iditarod released a statement Wednesday stating the Race Marshall Warren Palfrey after convening a panel of three race officials decided that Dallas Seavey had not efficiently gutted the moose after dispatching it Monday morning.

You can read the full press release here.

Seavey is currently 29 miles to Cripple where it is assumed the musher will take his mandatory 24-hour plus differential break. This will now include an extra two hours for the penalty. It is unknown whether Seavey knows about the decision.

This is a developing story. 

Update on Seavey's injured dog

Fans were happy to learn Wednesday morning that Dallas Seavey's dog Faloo, who was attacked early in the race by an aggressive moose, has recovered enough after surgery to be released into the kennel's care.

That's right, the dog who went from a 20% chance of survival to a 50% chance of survival is now looking to be picked up later Wednesday to travel home to Talkeetna to recooperate!

The kennel was sure to praise the Iditarod Vet team and Pet ER in Anchorage for their care of Faloo and thanked them.

Faloo's musher is currently on his way to Cripple after a more than three hour rest on the trail where it is suspected he will declare his 24 hour rest. Seavey has fifteen dogs on his team, the only team member missing is Faloo.

It's nap time on Iditarod

As the middle and back of the pack make their way into the checkpoints of McGrath and Takotna, most of our front runners have declared their 24 hour mandatory rest in said checkpoints. Several teams pushed to Ophir before declaring, and so far Dallas Seavey looks to be pushing to Cripple to take his (if he doesn't keep going, but history tells us Cripple's his spot with this maneuver). 

For Iditarod fans this means they can catch up on Insider interview videos or even take a break from the computer to get other things done (if they haven't spent the two weeks prior to the start of the race prepping food and what not so as not to have to be away from the computer long - yes, it's a thing.) While the live feeds show calming footage of sleeping puppers on straw in dog blankets often made by school children as part of the Iditarod Education program, it's also the perfect time for fans to take a nap.

From here on out the race is truly on. Once teams come off their 24 all teams are on a level playing field. They will all just have their two mandatory rests to take after this, the time differential from the start being made up on the 24 hour mandatory (Bib 39 has to take 24 hours vs Bib 2 has to take 24+1h14m...if the mathing is correct). 

Jessie Holmes pushed to Ophir in lead last night and declared his 24 - that doesn't mean he couldn't decide later to pull the snow hook and chase after Dallas later and take his 24 hour later, but the clock starts over and at this point that might not be a wise choice. Jessie reached Ophir at 3:46am Wednesday, he is bib number 9 so doing the math (hopefully somewhat correctly) he should be able to leave at 4:52am Thursday morning (give or take a couple minutes).

Snow is currently falling in Takotna, Dallas is camped about 11 miles out of Ophir and has about sixty miles to go before he hits the halfway point of Cripple. He'll be breaking trail unless someone decides to pass him before he gets ready to leave (not likely). This is always a gutsy move by teams to take this part of the trail first, but Dallas studies the histories of the races more than probably anyone else on the trail (including the commentators) and his moves are all calculated. This is no doubt the plan he's had most of the season. We'll see how it pays off.