Eye on the Trail: Thursday – Page 1

Deke Naaktgeboren on Front Street at 10:05 with the Sun just above the horizon. (Photo: Insider Video)

Nicolas Petit made the arch in 17th place with a time of 10 days, 10 hours and 9 minutes.  Petit was born in France, raised in New Mexico and now has his kennel in Big Lake, Alaska.  He’s started Iditarod twelve times and has finished nine.  His best finish to date, was runner-up behind Dallas Seavey in 2018.  He has six top ten finishes.   Nic took 5th place in the 550 mile 2023 Yukon Quest Alaska.  Earlier in 2023, Petit earned his fifth Copper Basin 300 and fifth Willow 300 championships.  Nic helped coach Jr. Iditarod musher Lacy Kuehl this year.  Petit’s time from Safety to Nome was an amazing 2 hours and 12 minutes.  He will be honored by the Nome Kennel club for that achievement.  There were only 7 mushers out of the top 20 that made the 22-mile distance in less than 3 hours.  Congratulations Nic!

Nicolas Petit 17th Place (Photo: David Poyzer)

Riley Dyche claimed 18th place with a time of 10 days, 14 hours and 11 minutes.  The first thing Riley said to Race Marshal, Mark Nordman, upon reaching the burled arch was, “Well I didn’t have to stop out there this year.”  Dyche got caught in the Blow Hole storm last year and look refuge in the Nome Kennel Club Safety Cabin for many, many hours waiting for the storm to let up before continuing on to Nome and finishing the race.  Dyche said he ran nearly all the way from Safety to Nome today to stay ahead of Ramey Smyth.  Riley considered the trail to be very good this year until reaching the coast where the snow was gritty and sandy, making for slow going.  Riley praised his leader, Elway, who ran single lead all the way in from Eagle Island.  In his previous two Iditarod races, he’s had to deal with big storms so for this year he felt Mother Nature was kind and is happy to have a new personal best time by two days and five hours.  His favorite part of the race is the trail, racing, visiting the rural remote villages and talking with the village people.  He says, “Being off road and seeing the diversity in terrain from the Alaska Range to the Bering Sea in one event is really incredible.”    

Riley Dyche 18th Place (Photo: Insider Video)

In 19th place, Ramey Smyth completed his twenty-sixth Iditarod in 10 days, 15 hours and 24 minutes.  Ramey comes from a mushing family.  His father Bud Smyth and Mother Lolly Medley are Iditarod veterans as is his brother Cim.  Smyth along with his wife Becca Moore and three children operate Homestretch Kennel in Willow.  Becca is an Iditarod and Yukon Quest veteran.  Ramey has participated in and won many races around Alaska.  As a teenage musher he earned Jr. Iditarod gold twice.  Smyth feels that mushing is a great way for his family to work together on a common goal.  He was runner-up in 2011 with a personal best Iditarod time of 8 days, 19 hours and 50 minutes.  Smyth has finished in the top ten twelve times and has also won the Fastest Time Safety to Nome eight times.  No wonder Riley Dyche was looking over his shoulder between Safety and Nome.

Ramey Smyth Runs into Takotna (Photo: David Poyzer)

Deke Naaktgeboren rounds out the top twenty finishers with a time of 10 days, 19 hours and 5 minutes.  This is the first time Deke has placed in the top twenty and he improved his previous best time by nine hours.  He also finished the race with 12 dogs in harness, the most of any team.   After watching his dogs sun bathe in the heat of the day at the beginning of the race, the cooler temperatures on the Yukon River were very welcome.  He felt his dog team really came together by the time they reached Old Woman Cabin outside of Unalakleet.  Deke left Shaktoolik for Koyuk during the coastal wind storm/ground blizzard.   About three miles past the safety cabin, the visibility really dropped.  With a string of 12 dogs, he couldn’t see the leaders or the swing dogs so he decided to turn around and go back to the cabin to wait the storm out.  He was hoping to race along the coast but was set back with that storm.  He recorded some of the fastest runs checkpoint to checkpoint and credits the energy and speed of his dogs to good dog care.  Deke’s time Safety to Nome was 2 hours and 27 minutes, second to Nic Petit. 

Deke Naaktgeboren Rounds out the Top Twenty (Photo: Insider Video)