There seems to be a wait-off between the two teams in the rear of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. This afternoon, Bethel rookie Victoria Hardwick was eligible to leave White Mountain over 10 hours after the previous musher to leave the checkpoint; there are no teams remaining behind her. She finally left at 1:46 p.m. on Sunday.
Hardwick was the next-to-last musher to leave the Elim checkpoint, but something happened on the shore ice just 14 miles outside of White Mountain late Saturday afternoon. She was apparently off the trail a little when her team stalled. She tried to get them going again, but the tracker showed them stopping a couple of times before settling down for an unofficial 8-hour rest on the ice. At 4:56 a.m. on Sunday, March 17, she made her way into the White Mountain checkpoint to begin her final mandatory rest period, a couple of hours after the last musher had headed down the trail to the finish line in Nome.
Hardwick would almost be guaranteed the red lantern award for being last in the race if there wasn’t already another team waiting not far down the trail. Cindy Gallea left White Mountain at 1:28 a.m. on Sunday, but is stopped less than 20 miles from the checkpoint. It there is a “race” for last, neither team will make it in time for the musher’s banquet tonight. The good news is that dogs in both teams should be well rested for their final run into Nome.