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.

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