Iditarod Is A Game Of Leap Frog Right Now

Mar 10, 2020

Richie Diehl spreading out straw for his dogs in the Nikolai Checkpoint.
Credit Zachariah Hughes

On March 10, the Nikolai checkpoint on the Iditarod Trail was filling up with sled dog teams until Brent Sass checked in at 1:38 p.m. Instead of resting his dogs in town with the other front-runners, Sass mushed through, heading out on the trail towards McGrath. A little over an hour later, Richie Diehl and Jessie Royer gave chase, followed by Wade Marrs, Aaron Burmeister, and others. A total of nine teams had left Nikolai by around 4 p.m., but Bethel’s Pete Kaiser was not among these early departures. He got back on the trail at around 4:20 p.m. By the time Kaiser mushed off, Royer and Diehl had already overtaken Sass, who had driven 12 miles down the trail to camp and rest his team.

Most of the teams leaving Nikolai this afternoon had at least 4 hours of rest to help them make the next 48-mile run to McGrath. It is at this point in the race when mushers start thinking about where they want to take their mandatory 24-hour layovers. Jessica Klejka is still making her way to Nikolai, and is likely to arrive there this evening.

Nicolas Petit also took his rest on the trail today. He was camped out for around 6 hours between Rohn and Nicolai before getting back on the trail.