49th Running in the 49th State – Trail Reporting: Tuesday, March 16th

Tuesday, March 16



Iditarod 49 Champion Dallas Seavey. Photo Credit: Dave Poyzer


Question of the Day:

How do mushers sleep during the race?


This question actually came up in my classroom today after watching some of the mushers cross the finish line. My students noticed how exhausted the mushers looked and asked about their sleep during the race. This is An excellent question! During non covid years, mushers have the “luxury” of sleeping just about anywhere they can find room to unroll their sleeping bag. Most common are on floors of school gymnasiums, community buildings or simply outside under the stars. 

Sleep deprivation is quite common amongst the Iditarod mushers, as the actual amount of “sleep” one gets during the race is minimal. The best chance is to get some rest during the mandatory 24, and two 8 hour layovers. At other checkpoints and stops along the trail, the needs of the dogs come first, while the mushers place their own a distant second. Between laying straw, boiling water for the dog food, feeding the dogs, checking and replacing booties, applying ointment to their feet, and massaging the dogs if needed, the mushers barely have  time for themselves. They also need to feed themselves before finally unrolling their bag and either sleeping on the straw with their 4-legged companions, on their sled, or using some other system. 

Take a look at some of these places where mushers caught a few minutes of rest in previous years. 

Robert Nelson (top) and John Baker rest inside the musher sleep shack, as Martin Buser sleeps in his bag during his 24 hour layover at the Cripple checkpoint during the 2010 Iditarod.
Photo by Jeff Schultz/ SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Ralph Johannessen naps on his sled on Puntilla Lake at the Rainy Pass Checkpoint during Iditarod 2016. Alaska. March, 07, 2016. Photo by Jeff Schultz © 2016 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Martin Buser Naps on Straw w/Dogs @ Eagle Is Chkpt 2005 Iditarod. Photo by Jeff Schultz/ SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2018 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED