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From Our Listeners
Alaska and Yukon Headlines
Iditarod mushers kept volunteers in the Nulato checkpoint busy overnight. Some teams that weren’t expected to stay grabbed a few hours rest in the sleepy Yukon River village, while others who could have used the rest decided to blow through.
Martin Buser says his dog team didn’t have much of a challenge travelling down the Yukon River this year.
“They were bored getting down that trail slow and steady and kind of a punchy, drifted trail,” he said.
Buser’s quiet team curled up for a nap almost immediately after they arrived in Nulato. Sonny Lindner arrived shortly after. His dogs wolfed down the food he offered. He says his dog team is showing signs of fatigue from the early rough trail.
“That trail was really rough at the start and once you get on the good going, and everybody starts trotting right along then all those places that got sore earlier start showing up,” he said.
Lindner spent his eight hour mandatory rest massaging sore shoulders and wrapping sore wrists. He could have waited to rest long in Kaltag, but he says Nulato is much quieter.
Checkpoint volunteers were surprised when Aliy Zirkle announced she planned to stay for a few hours in. Her team came in alert, tails wagging. She stopped to make what she calls a “significant force reduction.”
“I had to reduce my squad by two dogs: Joe Schmoe and Scruggs, so we made a significant equipment reduction. I just lost about 40 pounds off the back of my sled,” she said.
Zirkle left behind all kinds of gear she doesn’t think she’ll need. She says 12 dogs is actually the perfect number, plus it’s eight fewer feet to booty, two personalities less to deal with and a little less food to carry. As for the river travel, Zirkle says what’s normally a monotonous run seemed to go by quickly.
“Yeah, I don’t feel like the river’s been that long for me this time,” Zirkle said.
As teams come off the Yukon in Kaltag, they’ll tackle what is a reportedly snow free trail in place all the way to Unalakleet, but that’s nothing new for mushers this year.
When the sun goes down, the race goes on for mushers, dogs, officials and volunteers on the Iditarod Trail.March 8, 2014
In 2013, Anchorage Fire Department Sr. Capt. Jeff Bayless was recognized as a Red Cross of Alaska Wilderness Rescue Hero for his role in saving a kayaker trapped in a log jam. Bayless died during a training exercise on March 7, 2014.March 8, 2014
Aliy Zirkle, hoping to end her streak of second-place finishes, was the first out of Kaltag early Saturday morning. She left about 3:18 with 11 dogs in her team. She spent just a few minutes at the checkpoint before darting off for Unalakleet.
Martin Buser left Kaltag about 5:34 Saturday morning with 14 dogs. Nicolas Petit was in third place on Saturday morning. He left Kaltag about 7:14 with 14 dogs.
Dallas Seavey, who won two years ago, jumped into fourth place. He was in Kaltag Saturday morning.
Martin Buser, racing with 14 dogs, kept up his bid to win the 2014 Iditarod, leaving Nulato about 9:34 Friday night. Still in Nulato were Sonny Lindner, Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King.
Buser is attempting to win his 5th Iditarod. He won in 1992, 1994, 1997 and 2002.
Prior to reaching Nulato, both Buser and Zirkle had taken their mandatory 8-hour and 24-hour layovers. Lindner and King had not taken their 8-hour stops.
Last year’s winner – Mitch Seavey – was in 13th place and out of Galena.
Abbie West was leading the rookies and in Galena Friday night. She was in 18th place.