Jessie Royer is the third team to arrive beautiful White Mountain at 12.40 with 11 good looking dogs. 11 dogs is means she has only dropped 3 along 900+ miles, including here fluffball leader Chilkat. Third place is a position she held for a long time in the race. Take a look at this copy of the current standings. Take a guess where that was:
One thing us following the race along, be it snowmachine or airplane, always say is: We have our winner in the Top 10 in Nikolai. In this years case that is even more defined than usual. Nikolai is a watershed checkpoint during Iditarod.
After Nikolai it is a careful combination of racing aggressive, but not be the one out front too early and breaking trail for the rest of the pack. Specially the Yukon River from Anvik to Kaltag can take a lot out of a team. This year was no exception with the deep overflow. That section of trail does not see regular local traffic, like the nothern route Ruby, Galena, Nulato to Kaltag does. Looking back at my own career, I can see that it was not the best move I had done, being out front into Grayling back in 2011. At the time I did not quite realize why my team was loosing stream up the coast. Nicolas Petit fell victim of that this year, big time. And he was not alone, so far 3 teams have experienced a major setback including Mitch Seavey and Matthew Failor, who now is finally moving again, after 18 hours at the Shelter Cabin on the shores of Golovin Bay
3rd place would be Jessie Royer’s best finish in her Iditarod career which began in 2001. Her best place finish was 4th in 2015 and she has been in the Top 10 six of those times. Her runtime with 7hrs 54 minutes was a bit fater than Joar Leifseth Ulsom’s 8 hrs. She commented on how the hills out of Elims felt huge in the dark : ” looking up I thought those trail markers were stars “.