Leading Mushers On Last Leg Of River Run

Mar 9, 2019

The trail between Ophir and Iditarod.
Credit Ben Matheson

They are out of Eagle Island and running up the Yukon following a familiar headlamp. Nicolas Petit is breaking a slushy trail on river ice five miles ahead of Pete Kaiser and Joar Leifseth Ulsom; Jessie Royer is right on their tail. This year raincoats are replacing fleece parkas on the Iditarod.

Resting back on Eagle Island this morning are Mitch Seavey, Richie Diehl, Aliy Zirkle, and Ryan Redington. Kaiser and Zirkle are the only teams in the front group that have not completed their required 8-hour rest on the river. On the way to Eagle Island later this morning are 10 teams being led by Matthew Failor, who should be at the checkpoint shortly.

Bethel rookie Jessica Klejka came into Shageluk today at 7:28 a.m. to take a rest. Her competitor for Rookie of the Year, the Yukon Quest veteran Ed Hopkins, is just up the trail headed to Anvik. Bethel’s other two rookies are coping with bumpy trail between Ophir and Shageluk. Niklas Wikstrand is out of Iditarod about 50 miles behind Klejka, and Victoria Hardwick is still working her way into Iditarod.   

All but one team have completed their 24-hour rest. Marcelle Fressineau is mushing over that tough piece of trail to Iditarod, where she may take her 24.