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a dog death (unless clear that it was out of musher control like an animal or snowmachine attack) must scratch or be withdrawn.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.

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