The PenAir Saab 340 from McGrath to Unalakleet was mostly filled with Iditarod volunteers. Some were drop dog people, some were vets and some were comms. All will fill a variety of Iditarod support positions in checkpoints along the Yukon River or in Norton Sound Villages. At any rate, we are far ahead of the race right now preparing for the mushers to arrive.
Getting back to the front of the race. Early this morning it was a celebration for Nicolas Petit as he arrived in the Village of Anvik. At 05:21 it would have been very early for villagers to be out and about but guaranteed some were there along with race officials and Lakefront chefs.
It’s like déjà vu from last year in Tanana. Petit was in the lead and received the 2017 Lakefront Anchorage First to the Yukon Award. The scene in Anvik this morning probably unfolded in a very similar manner. Petit would have time to bed his dogs and feed. The chefs would inquire as to when he’d like to have the gourmet award meal. Petit will ask a village resident, perhaps even an elder to join him for the celebration meal.
Table clothes will be spread. Napkins, silverware, fine china and table decorations will give evidence to the special nature of the meal. Chefs will have their camp stoves, cooking utensils and meal ingredients near by. When the two honored guests arrive, Lakefront Anchorage Executive Chef Robert Sidro will begin preparation of the five-course extravaganza that features –
Stuffed jumbo shrimp wrapped in prosciutto;
Coconut and curry pork tenderloin soup in a bread bowl;
Mandarin salad made of toasted sliced almonds, mandarin orange slices, roma crunch lettuce, onion and bacon served with orange balsamic vinaigrette;
Pan-seared and flambéed bison tenderloin served with pear and cherry chutney, a sweet potato cake and sautéed baby onion;
A warm citrus dessert medley, sautéed in better and flambéed, topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
The after dinner mint, of $3,500 one-dollar bills is presented in an Alaska gold pan along with a bottle of Dom Perignon from the Lakefront Anchorage food and beverage director, Andrew Adlesperger. The dinner mint will be safely kept for Petit and presented again in Nome at the Awards Banquet.
Nic who took his 24 in McGrath has completed the required 8-hour Yukon River rest and has departed Anvik for Grayling following Mitch Seavey and Joar Leifseth Ulsom. With the teams on the Yukon river, for a distance of 140 miles, the wind will play a factor.
There’s a great deal of strategy to play out in the next few days. Who’s been keeping power in reserve riding the brake since the start? Who will run long and rest short? How will the mushers break up the Yukon River miles and what will their plan be from Kaltag to the coast?
Awards thus far have gone to Mitch Seavey – PenAir Spirit of Alaska (McGrath), Joar Leifseth Ulsom – GCI Dorothy G. Page Half-way (Iditarod) and Nicolas Petit – Lakefront Anchorage First to the Yukon. Yet to come is the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Fish First Award presented to the first musher who reaches Kaltag and The Northrim Bank “Achieve More” Award presented to the first musher in White Mountain.