Iditarod Leaders About To Head To Bering Sea

Mar 9, 2019

Sled dogs resting at the Ophir checkpoint.
Credit Ben Matheson

“Slippery Pete” slid into Kaltag first today, with Nicolas Petit just minutes behind him. Bethel’s Pete Kaiser arrived in Kaltag, the last checkpoint on the Yukon River, at 4:48 p.m. on Saturday, starting the timer on his required 8-hour rest on the river. He also received the Bristol Bay Fish First Award, which includes $2,000, a certificate for 25-pounds of Bristol Bay fish, and a piece of art. Nicolas Petit also stayed at Kaltag, resting. Joar Leifseth Ulsom arrived around 7:00 p.m., with Jessie Royer a few miles out.

Many mushers are expected into Kaltag this evening and into the night, including Aniak's Richie Diehl, as the trail climbs away from the Yukon’s slick river highway onto the tough overland section to Unalakleet, located on the coast of Norton Sound.

Farther back on the trail are Bethel’s rookies: Jessica Klejka, Niklas Wikstrand, and Victoria Hardwick. Klejka arrived in Anvik this evening, Wikstand is resting in Shageluk, and Hardwick mushed into Iditarod at 2:47 p.m. on Saturday and stopped to rest her dogs.

Two teams scratched this afternoon at Iditarod: Marcelle Fressineau and Emily Maxwell. Maxwell had nine dogs when she called it quits by turning her emergency locater on. Fressineau, who was out on the trail nearby, was the only remaining musher who had not completed her required 24-hour rest. She had 11 dogs in the team when she withdrew from the race. Fressineau also scratched when she ran the Iditarod last year.