Eye on the Trail: Rounding out the Top Ten

Travis Beals 6th Team into Nome (Photo: Insider Video)

Travis Beals has earned 6th place with a time of 9 days 14 hours and 39 minutes.  This marks a fourth top ten finish for the Seward musher.  His highest finish came in 2019 when he completed the southern route in 5th place.  His bet time on the northern route came in 2016  – 9 days 6 hours and 42 minutes.  Beals and his partner, Sarah Stoke, operate Turning Heads Kennel and Seward Helicopter Tours.  Stoke is also an Iditarod veteran. He and Sarah are the proud parents of Elias.  Travis says he began mushing before he was born.  His infant son can likely say the same thing.  At the finish line, Travis said he was very pleased with his run and this was a good group of dogs.  The blow hole was the worst he’s ever seen it with blowing snow and very limited visibility.  But it really energized the dogs.  Beals was the first musher to reach Kaltag and received the BBNC Fish First Award of 25 pounds of Bristol Bay Salmon and a $2,000 check.   

Mille Porsild of Denmark Finishes in 7th Place (Photo: Insider Video)

Mille Porsild, who considers her home to be Denmark, lives with and trains dogs in Alaska.  She was the second woman finisher at the burled arch today claiming 7th place with an elapsed time of 9 days 17 hours and 23 minutes.  He previous best northern route time was 9 day 17 hours and 56 minutes.  She improved by 33 minutes!  As a rookie in 2020 she placed 15th and was honored as the Rookie of the Year.  She returned in 2021 to run the Gold Trail Loop, improved 10 positions to 5th place and received the Humanitarian Award.  She ran the 2022 race finishing 14th and in 2023 she again broke the top ten at 9th place.  As a kid, Mille listened to her grandfather tell stories of running sled dogs across the ice and she knew she wanted to live her life with sled dogs.  She began running dogs as a polar explorer in 1992 with Will Steger.  She’s slept more than 1,000 nights in a tent on polar expeditions.  In 2011 she entered her first sled dog race in Russia.  She then moved to Alaska with Team Racing Beringia.   At the arch, Mille wanted to thank all the people, especially the nurses who helped her along the trail when she was sick.  She thought the trail was gorgeous but is happy to be in Nome.  Mille had a dog on her team from Sweden, one for Norway and another from Kotzebue – she called it an international team.  

Amanda Otto Earns 8th place (Photo: Insider Video)

Amanda Otto, the third woman to the burled arch, claimed 8th place in her second run to Nome.  With her team of Jeff King Husky Homestead dogs, Otto completed the race in 9 days 18 hours and 24 minutes.  In her rookie Iditarod in 2022, also on the northern route, she claimed 27th place in 11 days, 1 hour and 57 minutes.  That’s an improvement of 19 places, perhaps she’ll be the most improved musher.  Thus far, she has the best time Safety to Nome – 2 hours and 37 minutes.  Amanda’s hopes for a post college soccer career were short-lived because of a career ending knee injury in college.  She moved to Alaska in 2016 and redirected her energy toward sled dogs.  She began handling for King in 2020 and began racing in 2021 to complete her qualifiers.  Amanda especially enjoyed the Yukon River this year saying, “The Yukon really out did itself.  The run to Galen was very cold but the lights were amazing and the trail was very fast.”

Peter Kaiser claims 9th Place (Photo: Insider Video)

Peter Kaiser, the 2019 Champion finished his 15th Iditarod in 9 days 18 hours and 49 minutes to claim 9th position.  Kaiser was a rookie in 2010 and has run every race since then.  He has nine top ten finishes including 6 in the top five spots.  Kaiser’s personal best northern route run came in 2022 with a time of 9 days 6 hours and 45 minutes.  Kaiser is from Bethel and has been mushing since he was a kid.  Pete owns eight Kuskokwim 300 championships.  It was that race that starts in Bethel that sparked his interest in long distance racing.  Kaiser’s race got off to an interesting start.  One of his leaders broke its tug line and went down the chute to the trail ahead of Kaiser’s team.  The dog was rounded up in time to start with the team but there was one tense minute while the dog was loose.  Kaiser said this run wasn’t a magic carpet ride like some are.  He’s proud of his team for handling all the challenges that came their way and glad to be here in the top ten.  Kaiser congratulated Dallas, Matt and Jessie and their teams on fine performances.

Jessie Royer in Nome 10th Place (Photo: Insider Video)

Jessie Royer has finished her 21st Iditarod in 10th place with an elapsed time of 9 days 18 hours and 49 minutes.  Jessie is the most experience Iditarod musher to complete the race.  Since her rookie run in 2001, she’s accumulated 9 top ten finishes with four being in the top five including back to back third place runs in 2019 and 2020.   In 2017 Royer finished the race with a full string of 16 dogs.  She was honored by the vets with the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian Award and by her fellow mushers with the Most Inspirational Award.   Her fastest northern route time came in 2016 when she claimed 15th in 9 days 3 hours and 42 minutes.  Jessie who grew up in Montana started learning about dogs from 4-time Iditarod Champion Doug Swingley,  At the arch Jessie shared that the great-great-grandmother of these dogs  in her team ran in her 2001 race.  Having completed 21 races, Jessie is an Iditarod old-timer.  Royer is thankful to have run with some of the great old-timers – Rick Swenson, Charlie Boulding and Vern Halter.  Did she have any advice for the rookies?  Jessie relied, “Never give up, keep going.  Things change so quickly.”  Jessie is the fourth woman to place in the top ten of 2024.

According to ADN’s On the Iditarod Trail for March13th, this is the first time in race history that four women have finished in the top ten.  Jessie Royer told Anne Raup, “The Women just want to be acknowledged as mushers.  We’re just doing our thing but it’s a good thing for other girls and women to see.”