Early Afternoon Update from Takotna

Hello Iditarod Race Fans, here a few pictures from around the dog yard in Takotna. Mushers are busy feeding their teams, massaging and taking dogs for leash walks. Not only does that give a musher a visual of how the dogs is moving, it helps prevent stiffness. Teams resting here are real lucky with sunny and relatively warm conditions. The wood fired dog water cookers are burning hot. We just finished adding a bit more long term parking space. Packing down the snow is crucial in these deep snow conditions. Trying to help Terry get his machine unstuck, I quickly sank into the snow hip deep. 

When Joar Leifseth Ulsom came out to his team, the dogs started jumping up and were eagerly waiting for their food. A sure sign of success and a team very much ready to go. Some other teams had full, frozen dog food bowls sitting next to them, which is not ideal. Dogs cycle in these races and it is a fine line of catching them on their up cycle, when they fire on all cylinders.

When fan favorite Aliy Zirkle pulled into Takotna, much further back in the standings than we all expected her at the beginning of the race, she was in good spirits: ” I am the new Siberian Team “. She did not stay long, just long enough to ship back her return bag, grab a to go breakfast and head on down the trail. The team left without any hesitation, which means they are in good spirits. Just not into going fast at this stage in the race. It is a long way to Nome yet, and much can and will happen.


It is always a real pleasure to run into Dick Newton. Dick has been around since day 1 of Iditarod. Him and his late wife Jan ran the checkpoint for decades. Until a few years ago Dick still rode his Snowmachine to Nome. That is no longer an option, but he can’t stay away from seeing many of his Iditarod Fans in the checkpoint. Taking his picture, he is witty as ever: ” Now that is gonna break your camera “.

There is many great insider videos on the website here, so I keep this short and will update a bit more, once the main insider crew will head own down the trail to Cripple later this afternoon. 


Looking at the tail end of the race. Quince Mountain put in a heck of a run to Nikolai, with 8hrs 51 minutes  after resting 12hrs in Rohn prior. Bear Creek Cabin seems to be a popular resting spot this year. It is a little ways off the trail and thus a bit of a detour, but on the upside it is a nice and warm place to rest. Quince passed quite a few teams on that run to Nikolai.

Another interesting team to look at: John Schandelmeier, who filled in for Zoya Denure very last second, is out of Nikolai with 14 dogs. He had about 3 hrs preparation time to run the race ( running loaned winter gear and a bag with his cloths waiting here in Takotna ).  He has consistently been resting a little bit longer, than he has been running. He is keeping runs generally around the 5 hour mark, maximum. That is a great, old school, way to build up an undertrained team. He mentioned to me before he stepped on the runners, that the team had less miles than he would have liked them to see. It is a testament to John’s skill level to still drive the full complement of 14 dogs. 

Martin Buser, currently in 47th position driving a puppy team into Nikolai. He must be having a ball, with long rests in the checkpoints.

Out front 4 Yukon Quest Mushers are battling it out. Paige Drobny is having the run of her life thus far, with a very strong looking team, so is Michelle Phillips, they are currently camped together. Brent Sass, 3 time Yukon Quest Champion is passing them as I type this and Lance Mackey is about 4 miles behind. Exiting times! Mush on!


Here is the adjusted times of when teams can leave the checkpoint here after their 24 hr layover: They will begin to file out of here