It's really interesting to hear his stories over 25+ years being involved with the race. He's seen the finish in Nome a couple dozen times, and when I asked which stood out to him, he quickly responded with three... Libby Riddles win as the first woman in 1985, Rick Swenson claiming his 5th championship in 1991, and Lance Mackey's first victory in 2007. We also talked a bit about this year's race. I made a comment about hearing reports on the bowling-ball sized tussocks between Ophir and Iditarod. Cindy Abbott, one of the mushers that scratched this year, overheard me and passed by casually... "they were bigger than bowling balls." What could I say?!
On that note, I'm going to give you some quick updates and then catch a couple hours of sleep so I don't miss my early flight to Nome. It's been 8 days and 8 hours on the trail. We've had a couple surprising additions to the scratched list with Nicolas Petit and 2 others bringing that total to 7. We have 45 teams left on the trail to Nome. Pete Kaiser and Joar were both reported into Elim, race mile 875, late Monday night. A half dozen teams are into, or just out of, the prior checkpoint of Koyuk. As midnight Monday into Tuesday looms, the twins are closing in on Shaktoolik, race mile 777. I think they'll be reported into this checkpoint in 19th and 20th, the same positions they were reported out of Unalakleet. Kristy had returned one more dog from Kaltag, leaving her with 11 dogs in harness, and Anna returned two dogs in Unalakleet, so she has 10 canine athletes in front of her sled. I should be able to find out who left Anna's team after I get to Nome.
Watching some of the footage on the Iditarod Insider, it looks like things have been pretty gnarly out there recently. Ground blizzard conditions at night as teams made their way up the coast made for spooky images of ghost dog teams appearing out of the darkness and sideways snow.
Ok, have to get some Zzzz's. More Tuesday from Nome!