The race among the apparent Iditarod leaders on the Yukon River is nearing its end, and teams have to do a mandatory eight-hour rest at a checkpoint before moving on. Front-runner Jessie Royer came into Kaltag at 3:18 p.m. on March 14 to begin her stay. Six teams followed her into the checkpoint, including Pete Kaiser and Brent Sass.
Any team that has not completed its eight-hour rest at a checkpoint on the river must do so now before heading 85 miles to the coast and the next checkpoint at Unalakleet. Richie Diehl, who had been up in the lead pack, stayed behind in Nulato and has remained in the checkpoint beyond his required eight hours of rest. According to the tracker, he had not yet gotten back on the trail as of 5 p.m.
A lot will depend on the size and strength of the teams as they head out to the coast. Pete Kaiser has 10 dogs in his team as he runs towards Kaltag. The two teams in front, Jessie Royer and Brent Sass, each have 13 dogs. The rest have 12, except for Diehl and Thomas Warner, who both have all 14 dogs in their teams.
Bethel’s Jessica Klejka’s team of sled dogs reached Kaltag today at 3:18 p.m. She was still resting the team at the checkpoint this evening.