Hello Race Fans, it has been a busy night in Takotna. Jessie Royer was the 1st team to arrive, and boy did those dogs look nice. They could have easily kept going, but Jessie prefers to stay here in Takotna. Must be the pies. And the hot water. Or the good sleeping in the church. She pretty much always stays here for her 24. She also has her second sled shipped here, this one does have a seat. Jessie received the a beautiful blanket from Alaska Air Transit for here efforts of being the 1st team to Takotna. A few hours prior she had already received the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award back in Mc Grath.
Most mushers have very specific ideas, of where they like to park their team during their 24 hr layover. There is so much snow here in Takotna, that some parking spots have huge snowpiles, where normally teams would park. Jessie always parks near the church, and lucky for her, that parking area was wide open.
Richie Diehl was hot on Jessie’s heels with another fine looking team, a mere 3 minutes later. He did make some time on Jessie on that run from Mc Grath. We had to hold him a few seconds in the check in area ( his time was taken right upon arrival ) to 1st get Jessie’s Team parked. We are fortunate to have a strong crew of local help here, the parking squad.
Third into the checkpoint was Nenana’s Aaron Burmeister. Of those Top 3 teams, he had the fastest runtime over, despite having to stop for a few minutes to get a moose out of the trail and to move on.
Generally speaking runtimes have been pretty fast with 2hrs 30 min or less for the Mc Grath to Takotna run. Notably the teams which had been resting in Mc Grath like Lance Mackey, Michelle Phillips or Mitch Seavey were not significantly faster, than the teams which came all the way from Nikolai.
Brent Sass was the 1st team we expected to not stop, which he said during an insider interview while dropping a dog in Mc Grath. His team looked very solid here in Takotna. He only stopped brief enough to grab some more meat out of his bags, get a trail lunch ( midnight snack ? ) to go and disappear into the night. Ophir, 350 miles into the race, is the first time Brent is staying in a checkpoint. And a remote checkpoint that is, one of the most quiet ones on the trail.
Pete Kaiser’s team is not firing on all cylinders as much as Pete had hoped, his runtime over here is a bit off…. so are his dogs…. some females in heat still have some off the males minds occupied.
Thomas Waerner was commenting on how slow his team felt to him coming in. I am sure he will be pleasantly surprised when he looks at the times and sees that he is right in the mix. His big and furry dogs looked very solid. So did the team of Ryan Redington. It looked like Ryan had a body stashed in his sled, with his frozen stiff Neos sticking out the side. He is having some footwear issues, with his Bunny Boots also freezing up. Luckily the temperatures are about to rise here over the next few days.
A team which seems to be peaking, at least by looking at them is that of Joar Leifseth Ulsom. Leading him up to the parking area they displayed a lot of pulling power, so did the team of Jessie Holmes. Some teams are ” checkpoint motivated ” knowing a good rest and some food come their way. Those 2 Teams looked like they were hungry for more trail…..