Richie Diehl has gone home to Aniak. Diehl scratched from the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race on March 16 when his dogs refused to get back on the trail in Unalakleet. His team, which was running near the front of the pack during the beginning of the race, started to balk after they took an eight-hour rest on the Yukon River. Diehl managed to get the dogs going by taking it slow and giving them more rest. But by the time the team got to the coast, both he and the dogs had had enough.
This afternoon, he reportedly packed up his gear and flew direct to Aniak on Wright’s. With any luck, Diehl will get to sleep in his own bed tonight.
Meanwhile, mushers are arriving at the Norton Sound checkpoint of Koyuk. Thomas Waerner was the first, at 9:30 a.m. He left at 1:35 p.m., just as Jessie Royer, the second musher into the checkpoint, was running in with Aaron Burmeister minutes behind her. Mitch Seavey drove the fourth team into the checkpoint. By 4 p.m. there were five teams in Koyuk, with more running in on the Norton Sound ice.
The Iditarod tracker had a glitch in Koyuk. Somehow Waerner, who had arrived three hours before any other musher, disappeared from its leaderboard. Iditarod headquarters staff confirmed that there was a technical problem, adding that Waerner was running along the coast from Koyuk to Elim. By 3:30 this afternoon, the tracker had Waerner back in the number one spot with his team running about 5 miles beyond Koyuk.
Bethel musher Pete Kaiser spent the early afternoon resting in Shaktoolik, preparing to cross the ice. Jessica Klejka arrived in Unalakleet this afternoon to rest her dogs before heading around Norton Sound.