So while I wait for word that the twins and all their dogs are safely back at the kennel (when hopefully I can bug and distract them with requests for cute dog pictures), let's turn back to the trail.
While I digested all the news on the personal front, veteran Thomas Waerner and his team of dogs chewed up the rest of the trail, arriving in Nome in the wee hours Wednesday as the winner of this year's Iditarod. Not quite 38 minutes past midnight, after 9 days 10 hours, 37 minutes and 47 seconds on the trail, Thomas pulled under the burled arch with 10 impressive Alaska Huskies in front of his sled. Congratulations Thomas!!
About five and a half hours later, Mitch Seavey was the second musher into Nome. He was also running a team of 10 dogs. More mushers will be joining them soon, with Iditarod veterans Jessie Royer, Brent Sass, Aaron Burmeister, Paige Drobny, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, and Ryan Redington all reported out of Safety and on their final stretch, and Royer's arrival imminent. Another 10 mushers, including last year's champ Pete Kaiser and fan favorite Aliy Zirkle, are wrapping up their final 8 hour breaks in White Mountain and I'm sure eager to hit the trail and 'drop the mic' on this year's event.
But until they actually reach Nome, as of this post we still have 43 mushers in the race. There was one additional scratch, rookie Gabe Dunham, bringing our total scratch tally at this point to 12 mushers. I know a number of the mushers that had to step out of this year's race, including the twins, are still working their way home. Safe and swift travels to you all!
I will be back as more teams make it to Nome. The back of the pack is into Unalakleet, while the current red lantern, rookie Quine Mountain, is at mile 697 and nearly caught up with them again. After 9 days and nearly 18 hours on the trail, it will be a while yet before any of them take a sigh of relief under the burled arch.