Post 5. Nearing End
This photo shows the Burled Arch at Nome.
All the Iditarod racers are aiming for this arch spanning the finish – and only a few hours separate the top six contenders.
In the lead is youngest Seavey in the race – Dallas,
closely followed 2.5 hours behind by Aliy Zirkle
Ramey Smyth is 9 hours behind her
But Aaron Burmeister is only 30 mins behind Ramey
Peter Kaiser is another 4 hrs behind Aaron
Following him is Ray Redington (another famous Iditarod racing family member).
Cancer Survivors DeeDee Jonrowe has slipped down to 10th, and Lance Mackey is at No. 27, although old-timers say that is because he has a very young team.
If you want to catch up with the cat-and-mouse game being played out on the shores of the frozen Bering Straight, go to www.iditarod.com
And anyone interested in strategy for athletics event should read veteran Joe Runyan’s blog about how Dallas got to where he is in the race. It’s a fascinating explanation of the way thinking can win races: http://iditarod.com/5pm-tuesday-nome-dallas-widens-gap-on-following-pack-by-joe-runyan/
Post 4. Aliy slips past men
Aliy Zirkle slipped past the two Seaveys and Aaron Burmeister to end up with a pocketful of gold nuggets and the Wells Fargo Award for coming in First at the halfway point.
However, her lead hasn’t lasted long; latest from the trail is that Dallas Seavey set off before her on next stage, and is now 2 hrs 45 mins. ahead.
Although the old timers will say that isn’t a long lead, they are also saying that Dallas’s team ‘are looking good’. And at this stage of the race having a team that are set into a routine, and will run and run – can make all the difference.
Because the going is tough. Team after team has been forced to scratch – many because they have run out of dog, as you must have a minimum to finish the race. Don’t worry about dogs that have been dropped; they are well looked after by a team of Veterinarians. Fed, watered and flown off to the finish at Nome, there to live in luxury kennels whilst waiting for their musher.
One notable musher out of race is Jeff King, previous big-time winner, who has scratched. For a tough musher like King, this must mean the weather is throwing everything at the racers.
Post 3. Father and Son battle
The Seaveys are a veteran Iditarod family, and now there is Mitch, the father (53)
battling out race leadership with son Dallas, (25),
with Grandfather Dan, (74) bringing up the rear.
For Dan, it is a nostalgic trip, and he is taking it easy. He ran the first Iditarod, coming in 3rd, and now he says he is enjoying himself along the trail.
With Mitch first into the Ruby checkpoint, it wasn’t more than an hour before he was joined by Dallas. According to old-timers, both dog teams “look good”, but feeling is that Dallas might just pull it off.
This video shows the finish of last year’s Yukon Quest, where Rookie (first time racer) Dallas Seavey (above) won the 1,000-mile race, which many consider tougher than the Iditarod.
It may seem strange that the video doesn’t show celebrations, but first and foremost these races teach safety in the wild, and care of the dog teams. So Dallas could’t be declared winner until all his safety equipment was checked – you can hear him pointint out to where his Axe is stowed, and the dogs examined.
Meanwhile the cancer survivors are doing well, although perhaps not as well as they might hope. DeeDee Jonrowe, still running with her pink-booted team, is up in first ten, but Lance has pulled back.
WINS GCI DOROTHY PAGE HALFWAY AWARD
Musher Jim Lanier from Chugiak, Alaska who is running his 15th Iditarod, was the first to arrive at the Cripple Checkpoint at 13:55 Alaska Time with 13 dogs. The Cripple Checkpoint signifies the halfway point of the 40th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
April Browning, ITG Project Manager for GCI was on hand at the Cripple Checkpoint to present the GCI Dorothy Page Halfway Award to Lanier: a trophy plus $3,000 in placer gold nuggets, courtesy of Iditarod Principle Partner GCI.
However, presentations on the track are always very hurried affairs. No Musher wants to spend a second more than necessary at a Checkpoint, before they head off again up the Trail. So The GCI Dorothy Page Halfway Award will be presented again to Jim Lanier in Nome on Sunday, March 18th during the Iditarod Awards Banquet at the Nome Recreation Center.
This video shows Jim running in a previous Iditarod, with a single ‘wheeler’ at the rear. I am no expert but usually there are two wheeler dogs – but each musher has reasons for the way they run their dogs. Remember, the sled dogs are all individuals, and sometimes they don’t get on with each other – unlike humans, they don’t bother to keep their feelings under wraps!
Currently the going is tough, with very deep snow which is powdery at low minus temperatures. The race has been shortened due to conditions, and is now just under the usual 1,049 miles – the 49 was there for historical reasons as Alaska is the 49th US State.
STOP PRESS RYAN REDINGTON SCRATCHES IN TAKOTNA
Veteran Iditarod musher Ryan Redington scratched in Takotna at 09:30 Alaska Time. Ryan Redington from Wasilla made the decision to scratch due to personal reasons. Redington’s grandfather was Joe Redington, Sr., Father of the Iditarod. Ryan Redington had 10 dogs on his team when he made the decision. Redington’s older brother, Ray Redington, Jr. is still in the race.
Redington is one of several mushers who have already scratched, with weather proving a serious problem. However Ryan says he made his decision for personal reasons.
1. ALIY ZIRKLE LEADS CHARGE INTO MCGRATH
The prestigious PENAIR SPIRIT OF ALASKA AWARD was presented to Zirkle at a very brief award ceremony at the McGrath Checkpoint.
Last year Aliy finished 11th in the Iditarod last year, and was followed 22 minutes later into the checkpoint by defending champion John Baker.
Closely on her heels is four-time consecutive winner Lance Mackey, whose streak was ended by Baker last year, pulled in three minutes later. Meanwhile, Dan Seavey, 74, is running in his fifth Iditarod to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Iditarod Trail. He is also one of three generations of Seaveys in the race, joining son Mitch Seavey, 52, and grandson Dallas, 25, who in 2005 was the youngest musher ever to run the Iditarod. Mitch, the 2004 champ, is in his 19th Iditarod. Dallas is in his sixth and finished in the top five last year.
Spirit of Alaska Award
The award is a beautiful original “spirit mask” especially created for this event by Bristol Bay artist Orville Lind. But what s sometimes more important to these professional mushers, Aliy also received a $500 credit toward travel or freight shipment.
At the end of the trail is over $50,000 to the winner – but even more important is a Dodge truck and many, many sponsorship opportunities.
Apart from Lance Mackey, DeeDee Jonrowe is still going strong with her pink-booted dog team, albeit they must have already gone through a fair amount of the 4,000 boots DeeDee’s team made for them.
Weather Conditions increase dangers
Near record snowfalls have made Iditarod officials announce the trail’s course was being altered due to worsening weather conditions.
This year, Anchorage has already doubled its usual snowfall with approximately 120 inches – 10 feet of snow – and is approaching the near 133-inch record set in 1954. The deep snow could be a major factor in the Iditarod, as weather conditions affect the dogs’ physical performance and increase the threat of dangerous moose encounters on the trail. Several Iditarod mushers have already reported run-ins with winter-weary moose during training runs through interior Alaska.
Hours after Saturday morning’s ceremonial start, race director Mark Nordman announced trail breakers had become more concerned over a previously planned reroute in a critical part of the 2012 trail. Citing high wind and new snow totals, Nordman broke last-minute news of the change to mushers and fans.
So this year the trail may be under the ‘magic’ 1,000 miles – but may cause the mushers to take longer over the course.