My trip into Nome, despite the lack of sleep and early hour on Tuesday, was uneventful. It’s chilly here, with periodic snow and variable but constant at some level winds. And more snow is just what this small community doesn’t need. The mountains plowed up around town will be fighting to melt come July.
Wednesday came even earlier than Tuesday as fans, including your’s truly, doned their winter layers and went out to the burled arch to welcome this year’s champion. A little after 3:30am, with fat snowflakes falling from the sky, Pete Kaiser and 8 canine athletes pulled into Nome after 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds on the trail. Fans gave him a very enthusiastic welcome, and his dogs looked great with heads and tails held high. And of course I had to stick around to welcome Joar into Nome 15 minutes later. Nearly 6 hours after that, I hiked down to a spot a good deal east on Front Street to be one of the first in Nome to shout congrats to Jessie Royer as she mushed her way into a commendable 3rd place finish.
Aliy will be the next musher to join us at the finish, and it sounds like mushers are having to fight some high winds and drifted trail over this last leg of trail. With 3 teams into Nome and the scratches list growing to 10, we have 39 teams still out on the trail.
I do look forward to greeting the various teams as they arrive, but of course I can barely contain my excitement at the fact that I’ll be seeing Kristy and Anna again soon! We last left them resting in Shaktoolik. They spent 6 hours resting here before pulling their hooks to tackle the 50 miles to Koyuk. Seven hours and most of Tuesday afternoon later, they arrived in Koyuk, race mile 827. They spent 8 1/2 hours in checkpoint before hitting the trail to Elim. Anna returned one more dog here, leaving her with 9 dogs in harness. Kristy has had 11 dogs in harness since her last return in Kaltag.
It took a little over 7 hours for them to mush the 48 miles to Elim, and it must have been a tiring stretch as they spent twice as much time resting in checkpoint than planned. After 7 hours, they again pulled their hooks, 123 miles separating them from Nome. They were reported out in 17th and 18th place.
So when will I be bundling up again Thursday to greet them? They left Elim around 11:30am, and I’m giving them 7 1/2 hours to mush to White Mountain, where they have their final 8 hour rest. They could be out of White Mountain around 3am. A lot will depend on weather and winds over the next stretch, but I’ll give them another 7 1/2 hours to reach Safety. A 2 minute stop there to get their race bibs, followed by a 3 hour run to Nome... I hope to be Seeing Double under the burled arch between 1:30-2:30pm Alaska time Thursday afternoon.
With a little kindness from the Internet Gods, I’ll be back with exciting news in about 24 hours!!