by Terrie Hanke in Unalakleet
While all eyes are on the burled arch in Nome, there are plenty of other mushers remaining on the trail. Throngs of folks are lining Front Street as they anticipate the winner of the 40th Last Great Race to climb the bank from the sea ice onto the trail of packed snow leading to the finish line. It’s been an exciting race. Zirkle claimed to milestone awards, first into McGrath and first to the Gold Coast but young Dallas Seavey is in the lead between Safety and Nome.
Dog teams are moving from Unalakleet to Shaktoolik and beyond. Current weather says Shaktoolik weather has improved. Sustained winds have diminished to seventeen miles per hour with gusts to 25. The temperature is just above zero making the wind chill awfully close to minus twenty degrees. The over populated checkpoint of Shaktoolik is now down to two dog teams with seven teams on the way from Unalakleet.
Trent Herbst and the Berington twins departed for Shaktoolik just prior to 1400. While they were in Unalakleet, they enjoyed above zero temperatures while tending to their dogs. Trent talked about his team and his race. It’s been a different run for Trent than last year. Herbst won the half-way award on the southern route in 2011 and finished in the top thirty. This year, he is sharing kennel responsibilities with Jake Berkowitz. Both Trent and Jake ran the Yukon Quest. No doubt the Quest does a great job of preparing both musher and dogs for Iditarod. Trent’s Iditarod team is made up of the younger dogs from both Quest teams while Jake’s is made up of the older, stronger Quest dogs. Over this thousand mile track, Trent finds himself back in the familiar role of teaching young dogs the ins and out of the Iditarod Trail along with mental toughness.
Kristy Berington is now a veteran of the Yukon Quest. She really enjoyed the race and appreciated the good weather compared to the cold and storms mushers have endured over the past few days in the 40th Iditarod. Anna is interested in running the Quest but will wait until the race starts in Fairbanks again – 2014. The Yukon race start and finish alternates much the same as the northern and southern route of Iditarod. This year the Quest ran from Fairbanks to Whitehorse. Next year the race will start in Whitehorse and run west.
Anna and Kristy are running the trail together. They even took a little detour on the Kaltag to UNK up a hill to a look out and then back down to the trail. Kristy has seen the trail during the evening on her last run. Anna wished they would’ve gone over the trail during day light this year. True to the promise that was printed prior to the race in the Anchorage Daily News, Anna was wearing a red hat and Kristy was Wearing a blue hat. Otherwise ID would have to be made by bib numbers.