Pete Kaiser pulled into White Mountain to a cheering crowd and the church bells ringing. From a volunteer standpoint, he ran a very considerate schedule, giving us a full night of sleep and even time for breakfast, before arriving.
Watching Pete bed down his team was a display of masterful efficiency. No wasted moves or trips up and down the gang line. His dogs looked real good coming in and the veterinarians gave them a clean bill of health after a through exam. Pete went quickly about making a hot meal for them. Once he opened the cooler to add dry food, his dogs broke out in an exited chorus of barking. Well if that is not a sign of success, nothing is! All 8 dogs eagerly devoured their hot meal.
Pretty much as Pete was done feeding, 41 minutes later, Joar Leifseth Ulsom pulled into the checkpoint and parked right next to him. Joar commented: “ I darn near froze do death “. This is the first cool morning we have had during the whole race. It is about 10 F above. Pete said it was the first time he broke out his warm mittens during the whole race.
Both mushers are on an ideal schedule with arriving in the morning. Leaving here after 4 p.m. will be about perfect for their teams, with it getting cooler with each progressing hour.
Looking a bit further down the trail, Jessie Royer is in route here with a firm grip on 3rd place. Aliy Zirkle has proven great stamina with running in 4th place. Jessie and Aliy have been the top placing woman finishers for a long time, some years Jessie coming out ahead, others it is Aliy. Aliy had really questioned her move to run into Iditarod for her 24 hr layover. Now in hindsight that worked out quite well for her.
Another team putting in a stellar run is Aliy Zirkle’s neighbor from Two Rivers, Matt Hall. This is only his second time in the last great race. Currently running in 5th place is a big accomplishment. He has been running with 9 dogs since Eagle Island and must have great confidence in that team. Leaving in 11th place in Eagle Island, he started moving up in standings with skipping Kaltag. Running a smaller team is not necessary at bad thing. Less feet to bootie, less mouths to feed. If those 9 dogs fire all all cylinders, great things can be accomplished.