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Nicolas Petit Stalls And Pete Kaiser Takes The Lead

Zachariah Hughes

Bethel musher Pete Kaiser came into Koyuk at a little before 9 a.m. on Monday. Joar Leifseth Ulsom, last year’s winner, was an hour behind him, checking in at 9:59 a.m. Jessie Royer came in almost two hours later at 11:46 a.m. Of the three top teams, she has the largest with 12 dogs. Leifseth Ulsom has nine and Kaiser has 10.

There is one team missing from the front of the pack: Nicolas Petit. His team quit on him out on the ice, right in the area where they got lost during last year's race. Mitch Seavey passed him there this morning with nine dogs in his team. Petit’s team of 10 dogs started back mushing at around 11 a.m., but have stopped again; Aliy Zirkle and Jesse Holmes both passed him by later in the day. Zirkle has 11 dogs in harness to Holmes’ 10.

Richie Diehl is making the best out of what has been a tough run. First the Aniak musher did a face plant into a tree, and then his dogs started getting sick running up the Yukon River. He stayed in Kaltag 12 hours to help the dogs recover. Now, he and his team of 10 are out of Unalakleet on their way to Shaktoolik.

Bethel’s three rookies are still on the Yukon River. Jessica Klejka is closing in on Kaltag, the end of the run up the river. Niklas Wikstrand is just 18 miles behind her, and Victoria Hardwick is working her way toward Eagle Island. She is one of two teams that still have all the dogs they started with. Wikstrand dropped one from his team at Eagle Island.

Robert Redington became the fifth musher to scratch, ending his race at Kaltag this morning.