The fire siren sounded shortly after mid-night on March 15th announcing the arrival of Matthew Failor. Matthew is new to the top ten with this 8th place finish in 9 days 9 hours and 20 minutes. He took the trail with the goal of a top ten finish and was exceptionally happy in the chute with how his team had performed. Matthew, like the other mushers who had arrived ahead of him, talked about how difficult the run from White Mountain was with wind and blowing snow. He related that he walked in front with his leaders for long distances to keep them on the trail. Failor’s previous best time and best finish came in 2014 at 15th place with a time of 9 days 16 hours and 42 minutes. Matthew and his wife Liz are expecting their first child, a boy, in June. He was especially proud having both his wife and his son on the trail for this race. About this run, Failor especially appreciated the fantastic display of northern lights over Golovin Bay and his 8 year-dog, Led Zeppelin. Zeppelin, a big strong dog, has rarely run in lead during his lifetime but Failor moved him to the front for the long climb over Little McKinley out of Elim. Zeppelin surprised Matthew with his strong performance. Can you guess what the theme for naming that litter of pups was? Yup, heavy metal bands.
In 9th place, Mille Porsild scored her second top ten finish with a run time of 9 days 12 hours and 42 minutes. She placed fifth on the Gold Trail Loop in 2021. Her time for 2023 is a new personal best over 9 days 17 hours and 56 minutes for the 2022 race. Mille’s time from Safety to Nome was 6 hour and 6 minutes largely because of the wind and blowing snow. Mille lost the trail leading up over Cape Nome and was breaking train along the sea ice. After a great distance, she realized that she needed to be up on top of the cape, not between it and the sea ice. Mille turned her team and backtracked to the marked trail and continued to Nome on the right route. “That” she said, “Was the worst wind I’ve ever run my huskies in.”
Wade Marrs, born in Knik but now calls Solon Spring, Wisconsin home, claimed 10th place with a time of 9 days 13 hours and 7 minutes. Wade’s personal best time of 8 days 18 hours and 43 minutes and a 6th place finish came in 2017. Marrs has places as high as 4th and has five top ten finishes. Upon setting his snow hook under the burled arch, Wade embraced his young son Mac. Mac was as happy to see daddy as daddy was to see Mac. Wade asked Mac if he’d see Jett yet. The little guy said no. Wade carried the little guy up to Jett at the front of the team Where they posed for pictures. Marrs called the wind along the coast intense. As far as memorable portions of the trail, Wade enjoyed the northern lights around Golovin and appreciated the sack lunch handed to him as he checked into and out of Takotna.
Hunter Keefe behind a team of Redington dogs finished his rookie run in 11th place with a time of 9 days 23 hours and 39 minutes. He crossed the finish line 4 places behind Rookie of the Year, Eddie Burke, Jr. About twenty miles short of Anvik, Hunter came upon Eddie walking down the trail. Hunter knew that if he was in that situation he’d sure like a ride so he invited Eddie to join him on the runners. Hunter said that even with adding Eddie’s weight, none of his dogs turned around to see what was going on they just kept rolling like a freight train toward Anvik. When Eddie fell asleep and fell off his sled, the dogs kept going to Anvik. Hunter is known for his singing, whistling and dancing on the sled. He said that started as a tactic to stay awake and have fun on long runs and it seems the dogs like it. Hunter’s team had many of the fastest times between checkpoints which he credited to Senior. Senior, a dog named after Joe Redington, Sr. is a leader who likes to go fast and that’s the way we’ve trained.