Special Event: Iditarod 2020
March 6, 2020 12:10 PM - Subscribe

The last great race on earth starts on March 7th. You can see the list of mushers here or follow along by listening to Alaska Public Media's iditapod.
posted by cortex (94 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm super excited to see how Quince Mountain does, and how long it takes the Berington sisters to find each other.

Jeff Schultz is doing portraits again.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:41 PM on March 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Headed to the ceremonial start tomorrow! Rooting for Aliy Zirkle, as ever, but love following all the women.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:48 PM on March 6, 2020

Is anyone doing the Iknitarod knit along? My yarn is all balled up and ready to make gloves!
posted by Stacey at 5:44 PM on March 6, 2020

I'm not going to do the Imittarod pattern, but I have some other fingerless mitts to finish, and I'll be working on thiem.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:11 PM on March 6, 2020

There's still (like 1 day left) time to draft a Fantasy Mushing team (maybe even start a mefi league?), which is a great way to keep up with the race. Links: facebook, website, recent Anchorage Press story.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 10:35 PM on March 6, 2020

I was just reading that in contrast to last year, which was one of the least snowy ever (remember the sleds that got destroyed going through bare tussock fields early on?) this is one of the snowiest years ever, with up to 5' in some areas. Gonna be a slow race, I think. Hope everyone has their pacing and supplies well planned!

I'm rooting for Aliy and the Berington twins. I was sad to see that Jeff King had emergency abdominal surgery a few weeks ago and had to pull out.
posted by TwoStride at 7:05 AM on March 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

BraverMountain team announcements: here.
posted by suelac at 11:32 PM on March 7, 2020

I was sad about Jeff King, too- he seems like a decent guy (and while recovering this week, he wrote a letter in support of recalling our dumbass governor that got published in the Fairbanks paper- go him). I’m glad they’re letting his handler run his team, although I can’t imagine what it’s like to find out on Tuesday that you’re running the Iditarod starting Saturday. Let’s hope that he and Jeff like the same kind of trail food and gear, since the drop bags are long gone!

It was a nice morning in Anchorage for the ceremonial start! We always like to go, and it’s a fun community event, although I always wonder how thrilled the mushers are with the shenanigans.

Pete Kaiser won last year. His dad bought his mom Pete’s Iditarider spot as a surprise for her birthday and she looked pretty damn excited to be out for the ride.

Quince Mountain seemed pretty serious when he hit our spot, but perhaps he was just trying to aim his high five just right for the toddler friend near me.

Aliy Zirkle’s dogs are the matchiest.

The Berington twins are the smiliest (well, probably tied with Aliy).
posted by charmedimsure at 11:46 PM on March 7, 2020 [3 favorites]

Some miscellaneous links -

Here's an article reporting highlights (KTOO) from the Kuskokwim 300 in January showing some of the camaraderie between the top 5 mushers from that race (all of whom are racing in Iditarod, except Jeff King - Pete Kaiser, Matt Failor, Richie Diehl, Joar Leifseth Ulsom).

Here's a story (ADN) about 16-time Iditarod finisher Jim Lanier, 79, having to requalify this year (and successfully doing so; he also did the K300).

Some background on the moose situation (ADN), which may come up. I have heard (and can imagine) it is terrifying to be charged by a moose while mushing, especially in the dark.

(That article also includes the random aside that Jessie Royer "competes in events where she shoots balloons with pistols while sprinting on horseback" which is a thing I did not know existed until now. Jessie came in 3rd last year, was apparently the first person in Iditarod history to place in the top 10 without dropping any dogs a few years ago (Missoulian), and won rookie of the year when she came in 14th in 2001. I know there are a lot of Aliy Zirkle fans here, but I'm rooting for it to be Jessie's year.)

Rookie-wise, I'm pretty excited to see what Mille Porsild will do in this race (musher profile, facebook). She used to be Joar's partner, and helped him to his 2018 win, but she is very much a musher in her own right, and I believe has Arctic botanists in her family history.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 1:50 PM on March 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

How weird is the John Schandelmeier/Zoya DeNure switch? Does anyone know?
posted by dinty_moore at 7:19 PM on March 8, 2020

It happens, but that is cutting it awfully close. It's Rule 4 in the official race rules (pdf). Pretty sure the substitute has to independently qualify for the race (something like two mid-distance races, or one long race, or ran Iditarod before). Of course, the musher will pick someone they trust with the dogs, like Jeff King did. Note that other folks have already withdrawn without necessary substituting (e.g. Brett Bruggeman, due to concerns about his team). I think mushers who decide to sub may have strategic reasons to do so, as even if you (human) can't race, at least your dogs can still get valuable experience with the trail.

The first year I started really paying attention to the race, in 2017, Jim Lanier withdrew and swapped in a Duluth city attorney (Gunnar Johnson) and longtime friend, who had last done Iditarod in 1991, to race his team. I always thought that must have been pretty wild for the attorney.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 7:56 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Whoops, that article about Brett Bruggeman is from last year. Not sure why he withdrew before the race this year, or if anyone replaced him.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 8:00 PM on March 8, 2020

Looks like folks are starting to check in (and check back out) of the first checkpoint, Yentna.

Here's the full list of checkpoints this year (they're running the northern route).
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 8:28 PM on March 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Awww, yay! I just checked the standings and the Berington twins have caught up to each other and are now running 24th/25th.

And sounds like Zoya DeNure abruptly fell ill yesterday? Man, I hope that they come up with some sort of special award for Schandelmeier and Jeff King's sub.
posted by TwoStride at 6:26 AM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I highly suggest reading the detailed descriptions between checkpoints on the race map that cdefgfeadgagfe posted - there's a lot of interesting information in there!
posted by dinty_moore at 7:07 AM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

KTVA recorded some drone footage with a sled-eye-view of Quince Mountain's team during the ceremonial start.

Looks like a lot of the mushers are taking their rests pretty early on - and the mushers who weren't resting before (Pete Kaiser, Lance Mackey, Travis Beals) look like they're resting in Rainy Pass.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:45 PM on March 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Danny Seavey thinks there are 20 teams who could win right now- everyone is kind of bunched and taking it easy- and reassures Quince Mountain’s fans that he just stopped outside Rainy Pass to sleep and should blow right through and catch up soon.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:54 AM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

Man, it's impressive to see 66-year-old Linwood Fiedler still running near the middle of the pack. I'm decades younger than him and feel like I strained something walking uphill in a parking lot today.
posted by TwoStride at 3:31 PM on March 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

79 year old Jim Lanier has scratched (but is safe): https://www.ktuu.com/content/news/A-huge-relief-Lanier-dogs-safe-and-sound-Iditarod-48-568689401.html
posted by dinty_moore at 9:17 PM on March 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Nic Petit’s kennel page just posted that he was scratching after some snowballing bad luck today.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:41 AM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Loren Holmes just posted a gorgeous picture of Fielder bootie-into his dogs today on his Twitter account.

I enjoyed Blair Braverman’s article in the Anchorage Daily News about musher Lev Shvart’s side gig as a $129 carbon fiber meat ladle entrepreneur. The ADN limits articles that can be seen by non-subscribers, so if you want to save those for other articles here’s my favorite paragraph:

So what makes his luxury ladle worth it? “The way I see it,” Shvarts says, “it’s a really (expletive) good ladle that also happens to be really light. I’m really fond of the size, the angle of bowl to handle, and the stiffness of it. If it was made out of laminated human feces, I think it would be a great product, too. It’s just that with carbon fiber it happens to be a lot lighter.”... In the meantime, is Shvarts worried that another engineer might scoop up the coveted It Ladle title? “No,” he says. “I’m pretty confident that we make the world’s best long-distance racing dog food ladle that’s 15/16ths of a quart.”
posted by charmedimsure at 1:53 AM on March 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

I realize we're only 1/3 way through, but I'm feeling pretty good about Jessie Royer's chances of winning this year. It sounds like she had a helpful breakthrough (406 MT Sports) during last year's race. And it sounds like she's having a great time (Ididaride) on the trail this year. She used to work at Susan Butcher's kennel, which is a nice link.

We're now at the part of the race where everything bogs down while mushers take their mandatory 24-hour layovers, right?
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 2:44 AM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Aww, I feel for Nic Petit (and his giant dogs), especially after last year.

Apparently Lance Mackey is dosing his dogs with CBD oil? Which isn't great, but also a very low-stakes doping scandal (I realize the sport has had higher stakes dog doping scandals in the recent past).
posted by dinty_moore at 5:33 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing last year's experience had Petit more likely to scratch early if the question arose. Poor guy.
posted by TwoStride at 5:43 AM on March 11, 2020

Awww. ADN twitter feed says "Aliy Zirkle is... saying this isn't her year."
posted by TwoStride at 5:44 AM on March 11, 2020

It sounds like Nic Petit's reasons for scratching were (via ADN):
1. Some mild frostbite on the dogs that would have gotten worse if he'd kept on going.
2. Shorter distances between rests mean that his dogs didn't have time to digest their food and were puking.
3. A two mile long bison chase
4. His dog Joee being, and I quote, "a real butt"

Aily's dogs are just running slow, per another ADN article. I wonder if the snowier than usual conditions might have something to do with it.

According to the latest standings, it looks like John Schandelmeier is 41/56. Which isn't bad for a guy who found out he was going a few hours before the race (and hasn't done the iditarod since he scratched in 1993).
posted by dinty_moore at 7:14 AM on March 11, 2020

Nic Petit has not, in fact, scratched. Instead he's sending 2 dogs home.
posted by suelac at 11:49 AM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

And Sean Underwood, who stepped in for Jeff King, is 36th. Good for him!
posted by suelac at 11:50 AM on March 11, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh yay! I was wondering why he hadn't shown up in the rankings as scratched.

Aily is currently 8th, but I think that's just because she didn't take her 24 yet.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:01 PM on March 11, 2020

Oh wait, she's actually just in 8th - nobody's done their layovers yet. Yay Aily!
posted by dinty_moore at 12:08 PM on March 11, 2020

Yeah, looks people are taking their 24hr break (Alaska Public Media). A bunch of mushers are in Ophir. Pleased to see Paige Drobny and Michelle Phillips at the top right now. :)

Remember that the 24hr layover is when they adjust for the different starting times. So Jessie Royer and Richie Diehl started their 24hr breaks at Takotna only 3 minutes apart, but because she's bib 31 and he's bib 16, she should get a little more of a head start than that when she leaves.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 2:36 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Finally, an article (ADN) explaining the John Schandelmeier/Zoya DeNure situation. Apparently she has a heart condition and was hospitalized the day of race restart. Apparently he cobbled together some borrowed gear from other mushers and doesn't even like long distance mushing anymore but feels compelled to soldier through and at least has been having some nice runs. Apparently he had one hour to prepare to run a 1000 mile mushing race.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:19 PM on March 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

Re Takotna: Once a Year, This Alaskan Town Is Home to More Pies Than People (Atlas Obscura)

The first few 24-hour layovers in Takotna should be up soon, and we should start seeing those folks back on the trail within the next few hours.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:41 PM on March 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jessie Royer is currently in #8, but she's the highest ranked that's finished her 24!
posted by dinty_moore at 9:26 AM on March 12, 2020

Blair Braverman on how to pee on the iditarod trail (if you don't have built in help).

Mushers without built-in stand-to-pee devices often carry theirs in a pocket. One popular option: the pStyle, an open-topped funnel made of hard plastic that doesn’t get misshapen in parka pockets (like softer funnels do) and sells for about $12 online and at Fairbanks’ mushing superstore, Cold Spot Feeds. For the individualist, there are countless other portable pee funnels to be found online, possibly because people keep coming up with puns for names — the Tinkle Belle, the SheWee, GoGirl — and then creating products to fit them.

Though word spread a few years ago about Pee Pants, a sort of bike-short-turned-diaper contraption with a draining tube extending down one pant leg, they have yet to really catch on.

And of course, there are plenty of mushers who relieve themselves the old fashioned way, by removing clothing. With difficulty.

posted by dinty_moore at 9:56 AM on March 12, 2020

On another note, I really like how ... loose? the Iditapod coverage is? Listening to a couple of guys trying to figure out if they're looking at the aurora or just some clouds is just what I need right now.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:51 PM on March 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I can't imagine what it's like to be essentially cut off from the news right now - it's going to be a shock when folks get to Nome.

They've officially cancelled all of the public Iditarod events for safety.

Two other mushers; Nils Hahn and Alan Eischens have also scratched 'for the good of the dogs'.

Jessie Royer was the first to the Yukon River, and shared her food prize (a five course meal) with her fellow mushers.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:41 PM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

I've been debating whether to post virus-adjacent Iditarod news in here. As people have pointed out, this race is the ultimate form of social distancing, though mushers are starting to hear the news. I'd like it if we avoided spiraling about it in this space. So if you post a virus-adjacent link, maybe you can also post like a picture of some sleeping puppers or other links or comments.

Here's the menu for the 5 course meal.

Looks like Jessie just left Ruby. Headed to Galena, where there's apparently a coffee shop.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 1:29 PM on March 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

That's definitely fair - I was figuring out how to phrase it myself.

(I also recommend checking out the profile of Sarah Jane - great name, great looking dog, sounds like a big personality. Blue Steel is also a fun profile)
posted by dinty_moore at 1:46 PM on March 13, 2020 [1 favorite]

Jessie Royer is first to the Yukon despite her sled catching on fire.
posted by charmedimsure at 3:53 PM on March 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I love how she just sounds a little bit embarassed about it, but otherwise calm.

Brent Sass is currently in the lead, but it's a tight race (Jessie Royer was the first in Galena, but Brent Sass was first one out of it). At this point, there's three others in the top ten that have taken their eight (not including Jessie), so that's also going to have an effect.

There's also a storm (and fresh snow) to contend with.

Quince is currently the Red Lantern spot.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:02 AM on March 14, 2020

And Jessie is back in the lead!

The newest Iditapod has a lot on the coronavirus, but it also is suggesting that folks send sounds of them cheering to the podcast so they can play it at the finish line for folks. However, they're really bad about giving out the email for the iditapod (I think it's iditapod@alaskapublic.org, but am not sure), but something to keep in mind.

One of Fabio Berlusconi's dogs eats his salmon breakfast under a blanket.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:33 AM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm sort of spamming, but I would like to bring attention to the Nulato description:

Population 359 -- Originally founded in 1838 at the confluence of the Nulato and Yukon Rivers, Nulato was a Russian trading post. Without a stockade, the Indians promptly burned it down. In 1841, the Russian American Company rebuilt the trading post consisting of seven log buildings, but again without a stockade. In 1851, the Koyukan Indians again burned it down and killed most of the inhabitants. In 1853, the trading post was rebuilt at the present town site, two miles upriver from the old site. The checkpoint is the community hall.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:43 AM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Danny Seavey had an interesting post where he noted that although Jessie Royer "knows how to race from behind on the coast" (e.g. the part of the race along the Bering Sea after folks get off the Yukon), being the frontrunner is a new experience. I read somewhere she had never been the first musher to a checkpoint in the 17 Iditarods she ran, until this year. So I'll take it as a good sign if she's not pushing to be first at each checkpoint between here and Nome.

Pete Kaiser's kennel has a blog post up about impacts and strategy changes based on moving Nulato and Shaktoolik. They note that Nulato may be gunshy about the virus in part due to memory of the 1900 measles outbreak and other epidemics. (This has been on my mind as well.) More about Nulato including some history from Tanana Chiefs Conference (nonprofit that began as association of tribes in interior Alaska about a century ago).

I was poking through past iditapod episodes and didn't realize Quince Mountain is openly transgender. Maybe not so surprising I didn't know - I haven't been following him closely, and both Jessie and Aliy Zirkle have suggested that gender is irrelevant as far as mushing is concerned. E.g. video from last year (note: video includes adorable musher-dog snuggly bits).

It looks like a bunch of folks coming from behind have already taken their 8hr rest on the Yukon, but not many of the ones out in front, so things are still very much in play. Given Brent Sass (who just won Yukon Quest) and Jessie didn't stay in Nulato, they'll have to do their 8hr in Kaltag. Wondering how that timing works with the storm. (quick edit: whoops, dinty_moore already pointed that out upthread!)

Picture of tiny cute sled puppy (check comments for puppy butt).
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 1:16 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Quince Mountain is Blair Braverman's husband and she has lots of info on him and his team in her tweets. I also thought that this NBC News feature on Q was really great.
posted by TwoStride at 8:46 PM on March 14, 2020

Yeah, I'd known that much, but I hadn't been following #uglydogs, etc. I should though - Blair is an amazing writer and storyteller, and I've been enjoying her features on ADN. Also, this thread about her sibling pups Hari and Refried is so sweet.

Looks like Linwood Fiedler and Martin Massicotte scratched in Galena.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:28 PM on March 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

I cried a little about the Hari and Refried story - they're incredibly sweet (Blair does a really great job of illustrating each dog's personality, plus great dog pics).

It looks like most of the top mushers have now finished their eight hour rest and Jessie Royer is now in third - though only a little more than an hour behind Thomas Waerner in first.

John Schandelmeier is in 38th and Sean Underwood is 35th.

I was little worried about the mushers who had less time to prepare, considering the changing conditions and the checkpoints being outside of the towns. But it turns out that the residents came together to get some shelters at the checkpoint up and running (facebook video, all I've seen so far).
posted by dinty_moore at 10:38 AM on March 15, 2020

I came here to post the same video!

Ran into this blog post from someone who volunteered at Shaktoolik last year:
What are the benefits of volunteering for the Iditarod?

For me, it was the people. Interacting with my fellow volunteers and getting to know the native Alaskans in the village of Shaktoolik was an incredible experience. Furthermore, meeting almost every single musher who came through the checkpoint was amazing.

Some of my favorite musher moments are memories I’ll never forget. Peter Kaiser, the 2019 Iditarod Champion, asked to borrow floss from me because he had a piece of food stuck in his teeth for three days and called me a life saver when I handed him some. ...

Another enormous benefit is getting to see native Alaskan villages that are otherwise largely inaccessible. It’s very difficult (and expensive) to reach these places, and volunteering for the Iditarod allows you to experience them at a very special time. The locals are so passionate about this race and excited to share their villages and culture with the world.
Apparently there's a huge pile of mushers all camped out at a BLM-maintained cabin (Old Woman Cabin) about 35 miles to Unalakleet. Except Thomas Waerner, who apparently just arrived at the checkpoint.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 11:12 AM on March 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I, too, came to share the Shaktoolik video. :) Since that has been covered, I will instead share this story about an Iditarod vet saving the life of one of Matthew Failor’s dogs (from a problem that could occur anytime and does not appear to be Iditarod-related).
posted by charmedimsure at 12:59 PM on March 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

In more human interest musher news: Kelly
Maixner (currently running in the top 20) took a snow hook to the face in January and really seriously injured himself. He says that he has noticed lingering issues he had from that incident continue to improve along the trail.

Today’s Iditapod featured a nice little story from Alaska Public Media about Linwood Fiedler (who scratched- it talks some about why) giving his former employee Jessika Klejka advice about the trail ahead in Galena. That link has a transcript and a link to the audio.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:04 PM on March 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Looks like as of now Jessie Royer is only running about an hour behind Thomas Waerner. Go, Jessie!
posted by TwoStride at 4:00 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's going to be a pretty close race! I'm definitely rooting for Jessie at this point!

It's all fun and games until it comes to cookies.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:07 PM on March 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

A lot more scratches today. I'm wondering about Meredith Mapes, who's running with just 7 dogs now.
posted by TwoStride at 7:28 AM on March 17, 2020

Oh no, I'm heartbroken that the Berington twins scratched!
posted by TwoStride at 1:10 PM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Here's a really sweet blog post from whomever's handling the twins' media in the time. In short: a combination of death in the family (NOT from COVID) and really tough racing conditions where they weren't gonna come near last year's good finish and decided that this year just wasn't their year.
posted by TwoStride at 4:28 PM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thomas Waerner's out of White Mountain, a few hours before anyone else...

(Jessie Royer is currently in 3rd)
posted by dinty_moore at 7:55 PM on March 17, 2020

Can't believe Mitch Seavey is somehow second right now - he's clearly not a 3-time Iditarod champion for nothing. Though, given Thomas Waerner has about a 3 hour head start from White Mountain on him, I don't think Mitch is going to beat his "oldest Iditarod champion" record again this year.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:23 PM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Mitch Seavey has been hauling! That definitely feels like some wiley experience to catch up like that. Meanwhile I've been really impressed with the rookie Mille Porsild, who's currently in 14th and has pretty much been in the top 20 all race. If I can read the chart right, it looks like Quince has the red lantern and is 5 hours behind the next musher. I hope it doesn't feel too lonely for him on the trail.
posted by TwoStride at 9:35 PM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

...I hope the race officials don’t make an arbitrary decision that his race is over; they have done that for back-of-the-packers who are lagging before, since it’s hard to keep the checkpoints open normally (and this year is extra-weird).
posted by charmedimsure at 9:44 PM on March 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yes, I was worried about that, too.
posted by TwoStride at 9:57 PM on March 17, 2020

Also I see those penguins going down stairs and raise them a gently snoring doggo and OMG this is the thing I most needed to see today.
posted by TwoStride at 10:01 PM on March 17, 2020

I was following Mille Porsild before it was cool. ;)

Race for 6th should be very exciting - there's like 4 other mushers within 30 min of current 6th place (Joar), including Paige Drobny who's only 3 min behind him.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 10:15 PM on March 17, 2020

Anyone who happens to be up and wants to watch the winner finish, it’s live-streaming here. Should be soon.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:28 AM on March 18, 2020

I like how Thomas Waerner's team got confused a bit, like, are we supposed to follow the police car? No? Chute is this way? Okay!

They have such waggy tails. I guess it was just a long, 1000-mile, 9.5-day, subarctic camping trip.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 2:14 AM on March 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mitch Seavey finished second, Jessie Royer just finished in third.

Paige Drobny moved into 6th, and she left Safety 40m after the current fifth place (Aaron Burmeister), 22 miles to Nome. I'll be pleased if she can squeeze into the top 5. Last year, Joar left Safety 40 min behind Pete and finished only 12 min behind him, so there's still some room to catch up, albeit it's pretty tight.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

. . . and they're closing checkpoints early due to Coronavirus concerns, withdrawing Quince Mountain from the race (not sure which other mushers - if any - are also affected. It's a bummer, but also understandable.

It also looks like John Schandelmeier scratched at Unalakleet out of concern for his team. But really, getting 750 miles into the race with only a few hours notice and a bunch of scavanged gear is pretty damn impressive.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:24 PM on March 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Aww, that's really disappointing to hear for Quince. He's in good company though - it looks like a bunch of mushers picked Unalakleet to scratch, wondering if it's because they couldn't bail at Shaktoolik if they needed to, and it's a notorious stretch of trail. And weather forecast suggests another storm is coming in.

Looking like we're on track to match last year's five women mushers in the top 20 (Jessie Royer, Paige Drobny, Aliy Zirkle, and then swapping in Michelle Phillips and Mille Porsild this year for the Berington twins last year). Excited to see Mille probably in the top 15 - she's already left Safety and should be in Nome soon.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 4:01 PM on March 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Short video interview posted by Paige Drobny's kennel explaining she keeps getting passed on the stretch from Safety to Nome due to dog poop issues. Also, more waggy tails at the finish line.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 4:23 PM on March 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm gutted for Quince, but it might be nice for him and Blair to get back home before the whole country comes to a complete stop.
posted by TwoStride at 7:15 PM on March 18, 2020

Ooh, it would be great if Jessica Klejka (repping Bethel along with Pete Kaiser) maintains her current position (20th), so we could see six (!) women in the top 20. (And nothing to do with the fact that Jessica is on my fantasy mushing team, of course.) There's four other mushers within 40 min behind her, including 4-time champion and cancer survivor Lance Mackey, and Lev Shvarts of carbon fiber meat ladle fame. Still have like 4 hours of mandatory layover and 77 miles to go. I guess we'll see what happens tomorrow.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 9:11 PM on March 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Aily Zirkle ended in 18th, which isn't bad for someone who said it wasn't her year.

Jessica Klejka is still in 20th out of White Mountain, but only a few minutes before Jason Campeau.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:42 AM on March 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Man, the last iditapod episode got to me. Again, totally understand why they're shutting down a little early, but yeah, it's an emotional time.

ADN does have a wonderful collection of pictures from the finish line in Nome, including tons of mushers hugging their dogs and loved ones.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:51 AM on March 19, 2020

Aw, Nic Petit scratched for real. As of a couple hours ago, only a couple of mushers will still moving with a storm on top of them; seems likely there may be more to come.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:39 PM on March 19, 2020 [1 favorite]

Aww, that stretch on the coast seems to be cursed for him.

Jessica Klejka ended up finishing 22, behind Lance Mackey and Tim Pappas.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:54 PM on March 19, 2020

From Danny Seavey-

Back of the #iditarod pack update: Hearing the ice on Golovin Bay isn’t safe - someone ended up chest deep In water - trail has to be rerouted around on the shore. Trail breakers leaving Nome to make new trail now. Teams in Elim (and hopefully Koyuk) planning to leave and run new trail at 8 am tomorrow.

posted by charmedimsure at 10:53 PM on March 19, 2020 [1 favorite]


It looks like Robert Bundtzen scratched yesterday - we're now at 23 finished, 14 still racing, and 20 scratched/withdrawn.

Matthew Falor, Sean Underwood (who is still in the race, holy shit), and Tom Knolmayer all left White Mountain within two minutes of each other - it looks like they might be staying together on purpose, which seems like an extremely good idea right now.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:51 AM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

And Falor, Underwood, and Knolmayer were rescued by helicopter after encountering deep overflow (water on top of ice).

The eleven remaining teams are weathering out the storms in Elim.
posted by dinty_moore at 3:55 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

OMG! This is getting scary. Poor Sean, so close to the end.
posted by TwoStride at 4:32 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

We're close to the highest number of scratches in the history of the iditarod. Still less stressful than the rest of the world, but wow, this year was officially A Lot.

Sean getting this close to the end is a pretty huge accomplishment, and yeah, I'm glad those three stuck together - it made it a lot easier to call for help when distressed.

Checking the weather, it's supposed to snow and be fairly windy overnight, but it looks like Saturday is fairly clear and at least a little colder (about 20 degrees F, which isn't going to do anything for larger overflows, but will still at least stop the melt). Here's hoping.
posted by dinty_moore at 4:44 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

(Also Quince was interviewed by Jeff Schultz yesterday, so they did manage to get to Anchorage, at least)
posted by dinty_moore at 4:47 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

More info about the rescue just outside Nome. It sounds like the three mushers actually mushed into flooded seawater, which must have been cold and terrifying. I'm glad it sounds like everyone is safe.

Of the 11 in Elim, it looks like six are rookies, two are running their second Iditarod, one is a third timer, and one is running her fifth Iditarod. And the 11th is 4-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser, who has finished the Iditarod 36 times, including every year since 1986. He named his two kids after Iditarod checkpoints. The only reason he's hanging out in Elim is likely because he decided to take the puppy team this year, and sent his A team off with an apprentice musher. He's undoubtedly providing counsel and guidance to the less experienced mushers, and his kennel has been posting updates about the situation. Sounds like they tried to find an overland mail route, but couldn't, and will try again tomorrow morning.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 10:01 PM on March 20, 2020 [1 favorite]

KNOM has a photo of Tim Pappas (the musher who ran Martin Buser's A team) slogging through some overflow near town, if anyone is curious what that looks like. Which is, it looks like no fun at all.

Also, a short news clip with Martin from December (talking about his work on the Togo movie as Willem Dafoe's mushing double and teacher), which gives you a sense of his cheerful demeanor.

Nic Petit is apparently resting at a cabin between Elim and White Mountain, and thinking of joining the Elim pack on their way back to Nome.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 12:55 AM on March 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Post from Matthew Failor describing what he and the other two mushers were dealing with near Nome/Safety:
After wading through knee to waist deep ocean sea water overflow for two hours the dogs and I were too cold and tired to continue. The two mushers I was traveling with were obviously in the same situation. We all helped each other through each section of overflow the best we could with one of us leading the dogs across flowing water and the other two lifting and pushing the sled one foot at a time through slush and water. With my sled stuck in the cold slushy water, the dogs and we three were unable to dislodge the sled from the overflow. I made the decision to free the dogs from the sled leaving the sled and gear and leading the dogs across to safety. These two mushers were heroic and unbelievably helpful in this mind boggling situation.
The 11 teams that were in Elim should be in White Mountain within the next few hours, where they still have an 8 hour layover. Hopefully there's a reroute on the trail from WM to Nome that will let them avoid all that overflow.

Here's a picture of all 11 mushers just before they left Elim this morning.
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 2:48 PM on March 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

John Schandelmeier, Here's What Happens When You Learn You're Running the Iditarod the Day the Race Begins (part 1) (ADN)

"Fifty miles in, I discovered I had no way to tell time. You can’t run dogs without knowing how long you have rested them. I bought a $20 watch from a woman at Yentna Station. I didn’t find out until Unalakleet that I was not on daylight savings, even though the rest of the race was."
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 3:04 PM on March 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

That John Schandelmeier link is fascinating! I can't wait to read the next part. It's interesting the things you'd never think about (and also forgetting something right before you head out on a long journey is such a universal feeling).

It looks like the eleven have left White Mountain and are heading to safety- this was the part of the trail that was flooded a few days ago.
posted by dinty_moore at 5:30 AM on March 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

The first if the Elim 11, Grayson Bruton, has finished the race!

Everyone else has gotten to Safety.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

And the red lantern is in! Kaci Murringer, at thirteen days, twenty-two hours, twenty-nine minutes and forty-five seconds.

It's been an eventful two weeks. Thanks to all of you who watched along with me.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:40 PM on March 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Yay! It's been great following along with everyone. :)
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 1:53 PM on March 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thanks for starting this again, dinty_moore!
posted by TwoStride at 2:01 PM on March 22, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, thanks, and especially for taking the trouble to MeMail people you knew followed last year to let them know; that’s above and beyond and I would not have found this otherwise. Hoping that next year’s race feels a little less surreal!
posted by charmedimsure at 6:06 PM on March 22, 2020 [3 favorites]

Late update: Jeff King made sure his step-in Sean Underwood (who was one of the mushers who required a helicopter rescue just 25 miles from Nome) got his belt buckle (Facebook link).
posted by charmedimsure at 6:58 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Late late update: winner Thomas Waerner is hanging out in Fairbanks, having been unable to get himself AND his dogs home to Norway. He seems pretty chill about it, considering.
posted by charmedimsure at 2:41 AM on April 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

« Older Podcast: The McElroy Brothers ...   |  Battlestar Galactica Miniserie... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments