Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
The Iditarod race trail along the Norton Sound coast is icy and hard. Glare, windswept ice will challenge teams already fatigued by more than 800 miles of racing. Although challenging for the drivers, the icy trail usually proves to be easy pulling and fast for the dogs.March 9, 2014
Aliy Zirkle maintained her lead in the 2014 Iditarod Sunday, leaving Shaktoolik about 7:12 a.m. She was fighting off challenges from former champions Jeff King and Martin Buser who followed her out of Shaktoolik on Sunday morning.
Behind King and Buser are Sonny Lindner, Aaron Burmeister and the 2012 champion, Dallas Seavey. That trio is also out of Shaktoolik.
Zirkle was racing with 11 dogs. King and Buser had 12 in their teams. Lindner had 13 dogs in his team. Burmeister had 10 and Dallas Seavey had nine.
Last year’s winner, Mitch Seavey, was in Shaktoolik on Sunday morning and in 7th place.
Abbie West continued to lead the rookie field. She was racing towards Unalakleet on Sunday morning.
Teams running at the front of the pack have reached the Bering Sea Coast at Unalakleet. Despite a rough trail, teams are still on record pace as they continue to make their way for Nome.
Once they reach the coast, mushers have to decide how best to cut rest and maintain speed. Jeff King says it’s a mix of offense and defense.
King took his mandatory 24-hour rest later than most other teams. He followed that shortly after with a mandatory eight hour layover along the Yukon River, so he says his team has plenty in the tank.
“I can tell when my dogs are not tired,” he said.
Kings team jumped in harness as they pulled into the checkpoint. Martin Buser’s team however was less excitable. Buser says the way his team is running is definitely defensive.
“Yeah that’s a good way to put it alright,” Buser said. “I was not in offensive position coming over here, that’s for sure. The dogs were playing a little bit of their own team not on our team.”
He says his team is sore and tired.
“They couldn’t reach deep into the tank to give more,” Buser said.
But Aliy Zirkle doesn’t care what’s going on in front or behind her.
“I’m just going to keep going with my schedule I guess,” she said.
The trail from Kaltag was virtually snow free and the trail report is calling for more of the same ahead. That also doesn’t seem to bother Zirkle.
“Three-hundred miles is going to be really freaking far if there’s no snow for 300 miles,” she said. “There’s no snow and then there’s a trail laced with ice. I was kind of hoping for laced, because no snow is… doesn’t matter. I can do it.”
Once teams leave Unalakleet, they head for Shaktoolik where the wind is reportedly howling.
From there, the trail would normally cross the sea ice into Koyuk, but a lack of ice this year will put teams on an overland trail.
Led by Aliy Zirkle, the frontrunners came speeding into Unalakleet Saturday afternoon. With no more guessing where mushers will take mandatory rest, the rest of the Iditarod will simply be a 265-mile race to the finish.March 9, 2014
Aliy Zirkle continued her lead over Martin Buser and Sonny Lindner Saturday night in the 2014 Iditarod. She arrived in Unalakleet first and left first.
Buser, Lindner, Jeff King and Aaron Burmeister were still in Unalakleet at 10:00 p.m. Zirkle and Buser were battling for the lead much of Saturday.
The race continued to take its toll on mushers and their teams. Nicolas Petit, who was racing near the front, scratched Saturday night just outside of Unalakleet. He told his officials he was concerned for the welfare of his dogs. Earlier in the day, Ramey Smyth scratched in Ruby saying that some of his dogs were sick.
Mitch Seavey, the 2013 champion, was on the outskirts of Unalakleet Saturday night about 10:15.
Abbie West continued to lead the rookie field. She was out of Kaltag Saturday night.