I watched several Iditarod Insider videos, and the ones capturing mushers out on the trail made obvious that winds are picking up. I could hear them gusting in the background. Musher Jeff Deeter reported the same chest-deep drifts as Tom, and 20mph cross winds. As mushers get through Kaltag and Unalakleet, they'll hit the Bering Sea Coast, where temps are likely to drop and winds likely to increase. As of this writing, weather centers are reporting temps around 10F (-12.2C), but feels more like 1F (-17.2C) when you factor in a 5mph wind. Pressure is falling and teams are likely to see snow again on Monday.
Nic Petit, Joar, and Mitch Seavey still lead the pack, with GPS trackers putting them all beyond mile 700. They're running 13, 13, and 11 dog teams, respectively. Like nearly all teams at this point, they've checked off their 24s and Yukon 8s. The next and final mandatory stop will be another 8hr for all teams in White Mountain. The back of the pack is checked out of Iditarod and closing in on Shageluk. A 4th musher, Robert Redington, the 3rd and youngest Redington brother in the race this year, scratched in Shageluk, leaving 63 teams out on the trail.
And now to our Seeing Double teams! The leader board had Anna out of Grayling in 27th place Saturday afternoon. She dropped one dog here (full update on all the dogs below), leaving her with 11 dogs in harness. She and her dogs spent their Saturday night and Sunday morning on the trail, with her GPS tracker showing they took one longer camp to rest along the way. She's closing in on Kaltag, where she will most certainly take at least a 5hr rest before embarking on the 85 mile run to Unalakleet.
Kristy and Andy were reported out of Grayling at 10:20am Sunday morning, with Andy leading the way in 42nd place and Kristy in 43rd. Andy is one of 16 rookies in the race this year, and none have scratched yet. There are 5 rookies ahead of Andy, and I think holding in the top 3rd of a tough field of rookies is good work on Andy's part! Having Kristy by his side helps, I'm sure, but his own athleticism and familiarity with the trail (having fat tire biked it) must be contributing as well. Their GPS trackers have them just past mile 550 and closing in on Eagle Island. I am unclear if this is still a hospitality spot, or if it resorts to a normal full checkpoint when/if the weather permits. Andy dropped one dog in Grayling leaving 11 dogs in harness, while Kristy pulled her snowhook with the same 13 unbelievable canine athletes that have been running since Willow, having not dropped any dogs since Takotna.
With that, to our Dropped Dog Correspondent Jack! He sent me a few texts and we also chatted briefly. We knew Anna had dropped Timmy, Bob Barker, and John. Ruby is the teammate coming home from Ophir (with a sore shoulder) and Quintes had to bow out in Grayling. He caught a last minute flight back to Anchorage, so Jack is just heading to pick him up now and will learn more about why he was left in checkpoint. That means the 11 dogs currently leading the way in front of Anna's sled include: Little Bit, Kiwi, West, Beaker, RT, Hale, Cannonball, Sweetums, Pilgrim, Tornado, and Rizo. With the exception of Quintes, whom we're awaiting details on, all of Anna's dropped dogs are back at the kennel, recovering from mild soreness of shoulders and/or wrists. Jack says they were all dropped out of an abundance of caution.
We knew Kristy had dropped Beatris, and I now know Foxtrot and Blowhole had to be left with vets in Ophir. They were also dropped with mild soreness and are chilling back at the kennel. Kristy is thus running with 13 dogs in harness: Haley, Jack, Serac, Duramax, Gutten, Pace, Susintna, Bootleg, Pop, Bulliet, Wallace, Colt, and Henry. Unfortunately, with all the chaotic events surrounding the Iditarod start, I didn't have a chance to do a proper bio of Andy's team. :( I am getting updates from Jack, though, as his dogs come back to the kennel. Of course he also left the restart with 16 dogs. Shark was dropped early in Nikolai for mild soreness, and three more were dropped in Ophir ~ Kavic, Oklahoma, and Natchiq. They're all recovering back at Seeing Double kennel. Kavic was also just sore, while lady Natchiq was in very bad heat, which would have been harder on her and very distracting to males on the team! Oklahoma came back with a cough, which upon further examination vets diagnosed as mild pneumonia. Oklahoma is enjoying some kennel time inside by the fire for day or two, paired with medication, to make sure his precious athlete's lungs clear up fully. Andy is currently racing down the trail with 11 dogs in harness.
Net net, all 48 dogs spread across 3 Seeing Double teams involved with this year's Iditarod are either happily running down the trail or home, lording their stories over the other dogs back at the kennel.
KTVA.com posted a couple of cool videos on YouTube... Kristy nearly wiping out coming out of Shageluk when a sharp corner met with a steep drop. As well as a cool montage showcasing the dogs of Iditarod 2018.
Here are some stills from Kristy's video as well as other images from out on the trail to Nome. Even the leaders have over a day and some 300 miles of it left to conquer.