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Zachariah Hughes

Most major sporting events are sidelined by the coronavirus right now, but the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is mushing on.

As Alaska confirms its first case of the virus, dozens of mushers and hundreds of sled dogs are sprinting across 1,000 miles of the state. 

Race officials say that they're not too worried. But as Alaska Public Media's Tegan Hanlon reports, the race attracts volunteers who travel to remote checkpoints in rural villages, where the healthcare system is sparse. Zachariah Hughes has more.

Leapfrogging Continues On Yukon River

Mar 14, 2020
Ben Matheson

A woman is back out in front of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race running down the Yukon River. Jessie Royer left the Nulato check point at around 9:30 this morning after taking a 3-hour rest and passed Brent Sass who was camping on the trail. At noon today her lead was increasing while Sass stayed put resting his dogs.

Back in Nulato, there are nine teams resting including Rihie Diehl and Pete Kaiser’s. 

Making her way to Galena is Jessi Klejka at the tail end of a pack of 5 other sled-dog teams.

Coronavirus Cautions Hit Iditarod Race

Mar 14, 2020
Zachariah Hughes

There may be fewer people at the finish line to see the dog teams come in, but the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to Nome is still on. 

Jessie Royer was first into the Nulato checkpoint, arriving at 6 a.m. on March 14. Richie Diehl’s team came in an hour later, followed by Thomas Warner and Pete Kaiser. Brent Sass, who led the race out of Galena yesterday afternoon, followed his usual habit of passing through the checkpoint and heading out to camp on the trail. 

Ruby Fills Up With Sled Dogs

Mar 13, 2020
Zachariah Hughes

The Iditarod front runners are in Ruby, resting their teams before heading down the Yukon River. Richie Diehl from Aniak was the fifth team into the checkpoint; Jessie Royer was the first musher to reach Ruby. Diehl came into Ruby at 8:44 a.m. on March 13, a couple of hours behind Royer. Bethel’s Pete Kaiser was the ninth musher into Ruby, arriving at 10:18 a.m.

Jessica Klejka is resting her team in Cripple before making the run to the Yukon River. She arrived there at 7:25 a.m.

At this point, all but two teams in the race have completed the mandatory 24-hour rest.  

The Bethel Warriors and Lady Warriors 3A Western Conference Tournament games have been rescheduled to start Friday, March 13. The Lady Warriors play at 11:30 a.m and the Warriors play at 1 p.m.
Lower Kuskokwim School District

The Anchorage School District has canceled the regional basketball tournaments due to concerns about the coronavirus. District Spokesperson Lisa Miller said that all of the gyms in the Anchorage School District are closed for the next week as well.

Diehl And Kaiser In Top 10 To Yukon

Mar 13, 2020
Zachariah Hughes

Jessie Royer was the first musher to reach Ruby this morning as the Iditarod Trail turns down the Yukon River. She won a five-course meal and $3,500 for her efforts,

There are 20 sled dog teams behind Royer’s on the way from Cripple into Ruby, including Richie Diehl’s and Pete Kaiser’s. Both teams are mushing in the top 10.

Zachariah Hughes caught up to Richie Diehl in Cripple just before the Aniak musher headed back out on the trail.

As of this morning, Bethel’s Jessica Klejka is almost in Cripple, the trail’s official halfway mark.

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. 

Courtesy of Cecilia Aloysius

The Kalskag Grizzlies are heading to state after beating the Akiak Thunderbolts 75-66 during the Greater Kuskokwim Conference basketball tournament. Meanwhile, the Akiachak Lady Huskies beat the Akiak Lady Thunderbolts 76-22 to clinch a spot at state as well. It’s the first time that either team has made it to state since 2009.

However, state championships for high school basketball will be postponed until further notice due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Mushers Continue To Gather At Iditarod Halfway Point

Mar 12, 2020
Zachariah Hughes

There are seven sled dog teams at the Cripple checkpoint, which is the halfway point of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. None have completed their mandatory 24-layover yet. 

There are 18 teams on the way from Ophir to Cripple, all of whom have completed their 24-hour rest. Some are camped out on the trail and resting, including Pete Kaiser from Bethel. Richie Diehl from Aniak is still on the move, though. His dogs have been running fast and well.

Diehl And Kaiser Both On Their Way To Cripple

Mar 12, 2020
Zachariah Hughes

There are a half-dozen sled dog teams at the Cripple checkpoint, which is the halfway point of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Brent Sass was the first musher into the checkpoint last night, picking up the halfway prize. He and the other teams taking their 24-hour rest in Cripple will now have to watch as the mushers who have completed their 24-hour rest periods begin passing through later this morning.

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