I uploaded my remaining pictures from Nome to Flickr last night, so if you're still getting your Iditarod fix, check 'em out! The twins also carried a camera with them on the trail and I will be uploading a Twins' Eye View of the Trail
in the next few days.
The Iditarod's Red Lantern (i.e. the final finisher) only arrived in Nome during the wee hours yesterday morning, and the twins are just now getting back to their home kennels. The race may be over, but the recap has just begun!
Here's your quick link to Seeing Double's Photostream
The conclusion of Kristy and Anna's trek to Nome couldn't have been choreographed better. Sun shining, winds mild, fans lining the street. The siren sounded just after 5pm Alaska time on Friday, March 16th as they came into sight roughly 2 miles outside of Nome. I, of course, positioned myself almost directly under the burled arch, inside the orange fence and with good visibility of Front St. I saw them crest the hill as they pulled off the sea ice onto the street. As they have for the majority of the race, they ran in tandem ~ sleds side by side, dogs largely neck-n-neck.
Forgive the play-by-play of the Iditarod Insider footage if you've already seen it... But as they made their way along Front St., Kristy's team decided the fastest way to the dog lot (i.e. food and a warm bed, ASAP) was next to the chute along the sidewalk. She narrowly got her team turned in time to stay next to Anna and make her way down the official chute to the finish. Rarely ones that are phased, as soon as Kristy's team straightened out, the twins joined hands ~ eventually raising them high in the air before stopping their teams and reaching for hooks to secure them.
Oh Murphy and your blasted Law... Kristy was running one fewer dog than Anna, having made the decision to leave one with a sore shoulder in White Mountain and finishing with 11 solid dogs on her team. Anna was still running with 12. As you may know, your success in this race is initially determined when your lead dog's nose(s) passes under the arch. The twins stopped their sleds side by side. But as Kristy was running a slightly shorter team, it took a second for race officials and the twins to realize Kristy's leaders were not yet officially across the finish line! Had it not been for that, you may have seen a 5 second differential in their finishing times to go along with the 5 minutes that seperate these very tight sisters at birth.
Murphy not withstanding, it was a great finish to a great race. Anna and her team of 12 dogs claimed 43rd place after 12 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 30 seconds on the trail. Kristy and her 11 dogs claimed 44th place after 12 days, 2 hours, 17 minutes and 13 seconds. C'mon... 43 seconds? It has to make you chuckle. Or at least smile. In my case, when I get past the overwhelming pride in what they've accomplished together, I get a little verklempt.
The quick and dirty from there... Kristy and Anna made the rounds on their dog team, complete with gratitude for what each dog helped them accomplish and a fish snack. I removed booties and passed them out to fans. They checked gear and gave quick interviews. Before heading to the dog lot, I asked Anna if I could have a ride (if I promised not to fall off and embarrass her) on the sled down to the dog lot. She was game, so I hopped on the right runner and with her on the left we made the 3ish block ride to the dogs' temporary home base. Please understand, I don't play favorites. But this was Anna's rookie run and Kristy had Paul's support, so I don't feel too guilty for joining Bib #33 for a post-race ride.
Dogs were de-harnessed and checked by vets, fed, rubbed down with any necessary ointments, and tucked in straw nests for the night. After a change of gear it was full speed ahead to the salad bar ~ side of fries and a soda, please! A nap and a few more chores were all that seperated the twins from the best night's sleep they've seen in over 12 days.
I have a host of pictures to post and tales from the trail starting to accumulate, but I have to be candid... while Anna enjoyed some peace and quiet in civilization, I got out of her braids (as we are sharing a room for a night) and went out to celebrate! If you've never heard of Dawson Dolly or the Board of Trade Saloon, I'll enlighten you soon in my last couple of postings. But until then, I will downlodad a few pics, hit the Publish Live button, and catch a few Zzzz's until Anna stirs around 8am and I join her to check on her dogs.
Please remember, though... Only 2 mushers have since come in after the twins, leaving 7 teams still out on the trail. Let's wish them well on the balance of their journey and remember, in a race like this, winning is great, but simply finishing is a victory.
Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been
the foresight to know where you're going
and the insight to know when you're going too far.
It's a gorgous day in Nome today. The sun is once again blessing us with its rays, making the current 14 degree temps actually feel rather pleasant. And for the first time since I arrived, the flags hanging above the burled arch aren't flapping crazily in the wind!
Even if the weather wasn't being so cooperative, it would still be a marvelous day. And by this point, you needn't ask why... At 12:38pm this afternoon, Friday March 16th, our friend Scott, the Mushin' Mortician, pulled under the burled arch in Nome! After 11 days, 21 hours, 38 minutes, and 31 seconds on the trail, Scott and his remaining 12 dogs finished their long journey in 39th place. Scott and the dogs all looked really good, although tired. We've since gotten all the dogs fed and settled into their snug straw beds, and Scott went off to enjoy some time with his family, a hot shower, and I'd be willing to wager a cold beer! I'm definitely looking forward to hanging out with him later today and tomorrow. Scott is a very animated story teller and even the snippets of his tales from the trail that I've caught so far are great. From a moose encounter that ended well aside from a tangled dog team to his descriptions of the 2 story tall ice jumbles he saw along the coast, Scott's stories promise to be chalk full of adventure and laughs.
And the grand finale that we've all been waiting so anxiously for is almost here! Kristy and Anna pulled out of Safety around 1:45pm today and should be joining me around 5pm Alaska time. Needless to say, I'm wicked excited! They left the last checkpoint in 43rd and 44th place. Kristy dropped one more dog in White Mountain before tackling the 70+ miles seperating her from Nome, leaving her with a team of 11 dogs. Anna still has the same 12 canine friends that have been with her since she last dropped a dog in Kaltag.
Stay tuned! I'll post an update later tonight with pictures and the twins' initial reactions to the race and their arrival under the burled arch. In the meantime, here are a few shots of Scott pulling into Nome. I also uploaded the latest round of pictures to Flickr last night, so if you haven't had a chance to check 'em out, take a look!
Scott arriving in the chute in Nome.
Scott and his wife of 30 years, Debbie, reunite after nearly 12 days.
Two of Scott's dogs under the burled arch. I think the dog on the right was pretty tired, as he was clearing leaning on his running buddy!
Day 11. Yep, that's right. Eleven days out on the trail in subzero temps. Eleven days of minimal food and even less sleep. Eleven days rigorously caring for 12 or more canine athletes. Eleven days without a shower!! I'm worn out, and all I've done is a bit of traveling and typing. And for as tired as the likes of Dallas and Aliy looked when they crossed the finish line after a little more than 9 days, I can't help but wonder what feelings are invoked by the thought of all the fellow mushers that have been on the trail for an additional 2 days or more.
It's a nice day in Nome, with the sun shining bright and the temps above zero. There's been a flurry of furry activity on Front Street as team after team pull in. There's a siren in town that goes off when the next approaching musher is 2 miles out, giving officials and fans time to get ready. It's been going off regularly throughout the day and the dog lot is quickly changing from a ghost town to a bustling canine metropolis.
Kristy and Anna pulled out of Elim at 2:42pm this afternoon, Thursday March 15th. They were reported out in 43rd and 44th places and each still have 12 dogs. As of this writing, they're near race mile 810, leaving them 30 miles until they pull into White Mountain and their final 8 hour mandatory layover. Given the speed they've been traveling plus what I know about the remaining section of trail, I expect them to arrive late Friday afternoon to early evening. Don't worry, I've already rescheduled my return flight to Saturday night! I'm no stranger to taking a few chances, but risk missing their arrival I will not!! I had also better not let it slip to the twins how much cash I've dropped during this Iditarod, or next year they may just request a check in lieu of face-to-face sisterly support! Hah!
Our friend Scott is also still out on the trail, back ahead of the twins and near race mile 830. He pulled out of Elim a little after noon today in 40th place and still has 13 dogs on the team. 32 teams have finished in Nome, leaving 21 still out on the trail and 13 scratched. Of the teams that have finished, most had between 9 and 11 dogs, with a couple pulling in with 13 and one down to 7.
The section of trail that Scott and the twins just completed contains the hardest climb of the race's second half, taking them to roughly 1,000 feet at Little McKinley. The winds near Nome aren't bad at all right now, but I suspect they're gusting pretty good where they're at. Having finished that climb, they should be enjoying a fairly quick, uneventful run the rest of the way into White Mountain. I'm sure mushers and dogs alike will welcome the final 8 hour mandatory stop before tackling the 55 mile run to Safety.
And what about our friend Paul, you may ask? As I'm sure you noticed, Paul joined me in Nome Wednesday March 14th at 6:35pm Alaska time. He pulled under the burled arch with 10 solid dogs and together Team Gebhardt claimed 15th place after 10 days, 3 hours, 35 minutes and 48 seconds. Some mushers are able to travel with a team of handlers and are able to pass off their dogs right after finishing in favor of such luxuries as showers and hot meals. Not Paul, and it is clear to me he has instilled this in my sisters. As soon as his sled came to a stop and he set his brake, before talking to the cameras or doing his gear check, he promptly walked down his team of dogs, thanking each one for making the journey with him. You could also tell he was assessing each dog to make sure there was nothing they needed immediately before heading back to his sled and finishing up the people-portion of the race.
I did what I could to help Paul in the dog yard, both for the experience and knowledge it gave me and because I'm not one to sit around while a friend needs a hand. Together with Aaron, friend of the kennel and handler working for Dean (and thus with Anna), we helped Paul tend to each dog. Booties were removed and handed out to kids and other fans that gathered at the entrance to the dog yard. Jackets were taken off and straw beds lined up. Each dog got a snack followed by a steaming bowl of meat stew and kibble. All of the dogs had hearty appetites, although you could tell they were really excited about curling up for a long winter's nap. Two vets came by and carefully looked over each dog, also having Paul put them on a leash and run them a short ways to check their gait. They seemed pleased by the condition of his team.
It was only after his dogs were fed and snoozing away did Paul make his way to the Nugget for a quick shower and a change of clothes. And then we practically had to run to keep up with him as we made our way to a small local cafe for dinner. The smile on Paul's face when he spotted the salad bar was like a kid at Christmas, and I have seen many a musher sitting hunched over a heaping plate of salad. This is a common craving after so many days out on a trail where your odds of getting any fresh vegetables are near lottery levels.
It has been neat hearing Paul's stories from out on the trail, and I look forward to being a fly on the wall when Kristy and Anna arrive and all 3 of them start comparing their tales from the trail. Time and again, Paul has noted how cold it was out there. This was a "true Iditarod" with the kind of weather that helps make this race legendary, making Anna's rookie run similar to what Kristy experienced 2 years ago.
With the clock nearing 6:30pm, I suspect Paul is getting ready to go check on his dogs and feed them some dinner. I'm going to lend a hand, so that's all for this posting. I will upload a bunch of pictures to Flickr later so you'll have some visuals to go along with my endless babbling, but here's a few to tide you over.
Paul Gebhardt, Bib #25, and his team coming into the finish in 15th place.
Paul makes the rounds thanking and inspecting his team.
Excited kids visit some of Paul's dogs under the burled arch.
Low temperatures Thursday night will be around -10F. Highs on Friday will be in the mid to upper single digits. There is less of a diurnal temperature variation due to the trails proximity to the coast.
Winds will be out of the north at 10-15 mph. Slightly stronger winds of 15-20 mph in the Seward Peninsula Mountains.
It appears that any snowfall that will occur on Friday will happen further south in Alaska. No snowfall is expected in the final stretch to Nome.
Anna and Kristy pulled into Shaktoolik late last night. After a solid rest of nearly 10 hours, they hit the trail again at 7:54am Alaska time on Wed. March 14th. They pulled out of Shaktoolik in 41st and 42nd place, both still with 12 dogs. This 50 mile run from Shaktoolik to Koyuk is allegedly "bleak, flat, and monotonous" and, if you've revisited the trail map, the majority of this stretch has them out over the ice of Norton Bay. Wind is always a concern the last few hundred miles of trail, but with Stephanie reporting a low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska, it promises to be extra nasty this year. It is also not uncommon for dog teams to balk and not want to continue when they face the big white expanse of the frozen bay. Hard to blame them when it is said one can often hear the ice cracking below and around you.
The last section of trail along the coast before mushers crest a small hill and pull onto Front St. in Nome.
I was able to witness this year's winner pull under the burled arch. On Tuesday, March 13th, Dallas Seavey became the youngest person to ever win the Iditarod. He did it in 9 days, 4 hours, 29 minutes, and 26 seconds and pulled in with 9 dogs on his sled. Aliy wasn't far behind, and we've just had our 12th finisher arrive this morning. In addition to Aliy, DeeDee Jonrowe and Sigrid Ekran have also crossed the finish line, making 3 ladies in the top 11. In a sport that is still so overwhelmingly male... Ladies, I salute you.
Another musher has scratched, bringing the total of those out of the race to 12. With 12 mushers into Nome, that leaves 42 still out on the trail. The Mushin' Mortician has finally had to eat a little Seeing Double dust, as the twins pulled out of Shaktoolik just ahead of him for the first time since very early in the race. Scott was out of Shaktoolik at 8:40am on Wed. in 45th place and with 13 dogs. Paul is closing in on the finish line. He pulled out of White Mountain at 8:13am this morning in 15th place with 10 dogs. If he runs to the same pace as the other finishers, I expect to greet him with a hearty "Welcome Nome!" around 6pm this evening.
Dallas makes the rounds on his team moments after pulling into Nome.
Dallas Seavey accepting his 1st place prizes ~ a check for $50,400 and they keys to a new Dodge truck.
Temperatures tonight will reach slightly above -10F. Highs on Thursday will be in the mid to upper single digits.
Tonight, winds will remain out of the north to northeast at 10-25 mph. On Thursday winds will continue to be out of the north to northeast at 10-20 mph. These high winds will put wind chills into the -30's tonight and in the -10's on Thursday. The high winds are in association with a low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska.
No snowfall is expected; however, the possibility of a pop-up snow shower is possible tonight into Thursday.
I'm pleasantly surprised to see Kristy and Anna pulling out of Unalakleet far earlier than I would have expected, just before 4pm Alaska time. Kristy dropped one dog, leaving both twins mushing down the trail with 12 dogs on the line. It will be a cold, windy 40 miles to Shaktoolik.
On a personal note, as much as I want Anna and Kristy to simply arrive safely and happily in Nome, it sure would be swell if they could do it prior to Friday morning. I'm scheduled to fly back out Friday night, but I won't leave until they arrive! So if you're looking for something to else to put your mojo to work on, let's focus our powers of positive thinking on a Thursday night Seeing Double arrival!
Not much more than 24 hours ago, I was enjoying 60 degree temps and the sight of green shoots poking up through the soil around my home. Now, nearly 5,700 miles later, I'm sitting in Nome. The first traces of sunlight were just starting to grace the sky when I landed around 9am Tuesday morning, March 13th, and temps were barely above zero. The wind is blowing and despite the sun shining brightly in the sky now, I can't help but think about finding a fireplace and a steaming adult beverage (or two...). Meanwhile, the mushers and their teams have been out on the trail for over 9 days.
Anna and Kristy were pulling into Unalakleet (race mile 673) around the same time I was landing. They were reported in 44th and 45th places, respectively. As I suspected, neither twin dropped any dogs in Nulato, although Anna did drop one dog in the next checkpoint of Kaltag, leaving her with 12 and Kristy with 13. Dropping a questionable dog in Kaltag was probably a wise decision on Anna's part, rather than risking a problem along the long, 85 mile stretch from Kaltag to Unalakleet.
Aside from the dogs needing a good rest at this point, I suspect the twins are taking their time in Unalakleet before starting the next 40 mile run to Shaktoolik. A fairly severe ground blizzard was reported around Shaktoolik, with many teams hunkering down there, hoping the weather would subside.
The run from Kaltag to Unalakleet, aside from being the longest run between checkpoints in the Iditarod, also took mushers from the inland river environment to the Bearing Sea coast. As with most of the rest of the trail, weather will be a big factor for the remainder of the race, as coastal running leaves little reprieve from the notoriously brutal winds.
The top 5 mushers are out of White Mountain and have completed their final 8 hour mandatory layover. A winner is expected under the burled arch later today and I'll be bundled up and holding down a spot with dozens of others near the finish line. Odds are firmly on Dallas Seavey to take first at this point, as he pulled out of White Moutain a full hour before Aliy. But it is a long, windy 55 miles to Safety and another 22 miles after that to Nome, so never say never. The fat lady may be warming up, but she isn't singing yet.
With the top 5 out of White Mountain and running 9-10 dog teams, we find our friend Paul recently into Elim (race mile 797) in 16th place and with 10 dogs. The Mushin' Mortician, Scott Janssen, pulled out of Unalakleet in 40th place with 13 dogs just before 2:30pm Tuesday. If I had to guess, I don't think the twins will follow him down the trail until well after dark. Only two of the remaining 56 mushers are in Nulato, with one additional scratch since my last update leaving the count on those out of the race at 10.
It promises to be an exciting couple of days as the mushers start to arrive. I'll do my best to post pictures and more updates as I anxiously wait for Kristy and Anna to take their turn under the burled arch.
Low tonight will be around -10F. High temperatures on Wednesday will approach the mid 0's.
High winds around 15-25 mph from the Unalakleet to Koyuk checkpoints tonight. These stronger winds will move further westward during the day on Wednesday to the southern portion of the Seward Peninsula. Winds will be out of the north to northeast in association with a surface low pressure as it moves across the Aleutian Islands. Wind chills will be cold in the -30's to -40's tonight.
No snowfall expected tonight or Wednesday. Possible fog formation tonight could reduce visibility along the trail.