Monday, March 4, 2024

Less than twelve hours in and it's chaos

Dallas Seavey and team leave the starting chute.
Willow, Alaska. March 3, 2024.
The Iditarod left little time before bringing all the drama in the first hours of the race Monday morning. In less than twelve hours the race saw its first reports of an aggressive moose having to be dispatched by one of the race's biggest names. By the time the sun was up fans were frantic trying to find out just what happened, and were saddened to hear that a dog was injured enough to have to be flown to Anchorage for examination and treatment.

Roughly at 1:40am Monday morning a report came into Iditarod officials in Finger Lake that an aggressive moose had been shot by five-time Iditarod Champion Dallas Seavey. This same moose had attacked Jessie's Holmes' team just a little while before tangling with Seavey, and Holmes fought it off of his team by "punching it in the nose." Seavey could not fend off the moose and was forced to dispatch the animal. According to Seavey, the moose was so close when he shot it that it landed on his sled.

Iditarod rules state that anytime a moose has to be put down by a musher on the trail, the musher MUST dress out the animal and report it ASAP to Iditarod officials. For dressing out the musher must skin the animal as well as remove all internal organs so as not to have the meat spoil. Once officials are alerted they will report to Alaska Troopers who will recover the meat and disperse it to local communities. No team behind the musher can advance past the musher and must help field dress the animal. Once the original musher leaves the site then the other mushers may continue.

Dallas did everything right, but where the moose was dispatched it was in a part of the trail that the carcass could not easily be seen by teams. Several teams including Paige Drobny, Wally Robinson, and Gabe Dunham reported running over the moose! Everyone seemed to have a good laugh about it, though.

Seavey did have one dog injured in the moose encounter. The pup, named Faloo, was "returned" from the trail when Dallas came into Finger Lake and is with vets in Anchorage being evaluated and tended to.

This was not the first moose encounter for Dallas Seavey in Iditarod 52. About halfway through the Ceremonial Start the champion team was stalled as a young moose stood in the trail while the musher held his lead dogs and kept things calm. 

This morning's event was definitely not what the birthday boy had planned for his race, much less how he planned to spend his birthday.

In other race news, currently it's Travis Beals out in front with Dallas running right along with him. Beals still has all 16 dogs where several teams have dropped to 14 (all dogs are safe as returned dogs waiting to be transported home). The race cannot be won this early on, but it can be lost if a team gets ahead of itself and is allowed to run beyond its capabilities. However, according to a post by Beals' facebook page he is right on schedule (which his partner says is kind of a first for him.)

Jessie Royer crashed for the "first time ever" in the Happy River Steps area, a notorious bit of trail who has taken out many a musher and sled. While musher and sled seem to have made it in one piece, Royer's jacket is not so lucky. She says she hopes she can wait to mend it (it's a sizable rip that nearly took off her pocket) in Takotna, so it's safe to assume that's the checkpoint she plans to take her 24.

The front runners are on their way to Nikolai and should arrive in the wee morning hours, unless they choose to camp to sling shot past the checkpoint and continue on. This is where we start to see the gaps form between the leaders, chase, and back of the pack. This is the last time fans should feel good about taking naps/get actual sleep until everyone begins their 24s in the next day or two.


  1. Thanks so much for your writing, Toni! I’m working as an election worker and can’t follow as closely as usual ✌️💖

    1. Thank you for volunteering to work in such a thankless job in a very high stress year.

  2. Thanks so much for the info Toni!