Iditarod Front-runners Rest At Coast

Mar 10, 2019

Musher Mitch Seavey leaving Shageluk in the 2019 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Credit Ben Matheson

While Nicolas Petit bedded down his dogs in Unalakleet Sunday morning, the other three teams at the front of the Iditarod race were doing the same thing outside of town. Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Jessie Royer, and Pete Kaiser camped together off the trail just 20 miles out of Unalakleet. Mitch Seavey joined the group early this afternoon. 

Petit received the Inaugural Ryan Air Gold Coast Award for being the first to get to Unalakleet. That gets him $1,500 in gold nuggets from the Bering Straits region and a carved ivory dog sled team made by Leonard Savage of Holy Cross.

Weather is a factor and a storm is blowing in on the coast. Out on the trail from Kaltag are approximately nine teams, but Richie Diehl was not among them until Sunday afternoon. The Aniak musher was taking an unsually long rest in Kaltag. He spent 12 hours there caring for his dogs, which Richie’s dad Dave says were a bit sick on the Yukon River. Diehl was back on the trail headed to the coast at a little before 2 p.m. on Sunday. 

Bethel’s rookies are spread along the Yukon River, which means a lot of wind. Jessica Klejka is in front, making her way to the Eagle Island checkpoint with Niklas Wikstrand a ways behind her. Victoria Hardwick spent her Sunday resting in Shageluk.