Y-K Delta Mushers Passing Yesterday’s Leaders In Iditarod Race

Mar 12, 2020

Richie Diehl and Pete Kaiser talk in Takotna.
Credit Zachariah Hughes

It was late afternoon on March 12 when the second wave of sled dog teams started coming into the Iditarod’s halfway point in Cripple. Leading those coming in was Thomas Waerner. The seven teams who were already at the checkpoint taking their mandatory 24-hour break can do nothing but watch as those mushers who have already completed the required rest mush on towards Ruby and the Yukon River. 

Among the teams that will be heading out to the Yukon tonight are Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta mushers Richie Diehl and Pete Kaiser. They both set out from Takotna in the wee hours of March 12 after completing their 24-hour rest periods. After the Cripple checkpoint, there is a long night of mushing to cover the 70 miles of trail to Ruby. 

Back in McGrath, Bethel’s Jessica Klejka finished her 24-hour rest and drove her team through Takotna and on to Ophir by 2:30 p.m., putting her in a good position to take advantage of cold crisp nighttime conditions on the trail to the halfway point.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Iditarod organization has decided to postpone both the Meet the Mushers event on March 21, and the Awards banquet on March 22 in Nome. A release from the race committee says that the decision was "made in the best interest of public health.”