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Stories about sporting events.

Iditarod Leaders About To Head To Bering Sea

Mar 9, 2019
Ben Matheson

“Slippery Pete” slid into Kaltag first today, with Nicolas Petit just minutes behind him. Bethel’s Pete Kaiser arrived in Kaltag, the last checkpoint on the Yukon River, at 4:48 p.m. on Saturday, starting the timer on his required 8-hour rest on the river. He also received the Bristol Bay Fish First Award, which includes $2,000, a certificate for 25-pounds of Bristol Bay fish, and a piece of art. Nicolas Petit also stayed at Kaltag, resting. Joar Leifseth Ulsom arrived around 7:00 p.m., with Jessie Royer a few miles out.

They Also Serve Who Only Sit And Wait

Mar 9, 2019
Ben Matheson

The press may cover the mushers in the Iditarod, but what about the parents who are left behind? Do they call their mushing kids on the phone while they’re out on the trail?

“Have not,” says Ron Kaiser, the father of Bethel musher Pete Kaiser. “I don’t call him, that’s for sure. I don’t try that. “

Ron’s son, Pete, has finished in the top-10 five times. 

“Same thing here,” Jackie Klejka, Iditarod rookie Jessica Klejka's mother, agrees.

Each has a child in the Iditarod.

It’s Really A Race!

Mar 9, 2019
Ben Matheson's picture of Iditarod Checkpoint

This year's Iditarod race along the Yukon River has four mushers leading the pack on the way to Kaltag. At 1:30 p.m. there were only 5 miles separating the four teams. Out in front was Bethel’s Pete Kaiser; hot on his tail was Nicolas Petit, followed by last year’s Iditarod champion, Joar Leifseth Ulsom. Coming up behind was Jessie Royer.

Leading Mushers On Last Leg Of River Run

Mar 9, 2019
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.

Pete Kaiser leaves the Shageluk checkpoint on March 8, 2019.
Ben Matheson

Mushers Pete Kaiser of Bethel and Richie Diehl of Aniak are halfway through the Iditarod trail. Both passed through the Shageluk checkpoint on the Yukon River on Friday, where KNOM reporter Ben Matheson checked in with them. Listen to the interviews here.


Iditarod musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom leaves the Shageluk checkpoint on March 8, 2019.
Ben Matheson

In the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, rough trail conditions and strategy are playing out on the Yukon River.

Nicholas Petit's dogs in the Iditarod checkpoint on March 7, 2019.
Ben Matheson

In the Iditarod, Nicholas Petit is leading the way up the Yukon River with 12 dogs. He dropped two in Anvik when he left the checkpoint at 8:58 a.m. About 18 miles behind him is Joar Leifseth Ulsom, who picked up speed coming into Anvik at 11:30 a.m., followed by Jessie Royer a mile behind.

Musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom sorts through drop bags in the Iditarod checkpoint on March 7, 2019.
Ben Matheson

The rough and bumpy trail to Iditarod and onto the Yukon River took it out of both mushers and dogs. Aliy Zirkle’s gamble to push ahead and take her 24-hour mandatory layover in the Iditarod checkpoint did not pay off. She is now farther back in the pack, and behind the top 10 teams.

Musher Aliy Zirkle arrives first into the Iditarod checkpoint on March 7, 2019.
Ben Matheson

The sprint between Nicholas Petit and Joar Leifseth Ulsom ended at 12:13 p.m. on Thursday, when Petit arrived in Iditarod 15 minutes ahead of Leifseth Ulsom. Petit wasn’t there when Leifseth Ulsom checked in, because he had gone on down the trail to camp about 10 miles outside of town. Leifseth Ulsom spent most of the afternoon in Iditarod as Martin Buser arrived to take his mandatory 24-hour rest, followed by Jessie Royer, Pete Kaiser, and Richie Diehl, who have all completed their mandatory 24s.

The Iditarod checkpoint on the Iditarod River on March 7, 2019.
Ben Matheson

Another musher may show up in Iditarod soon. Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Nicholas Petit are sprinting toward the checkpoint where Aliy Zirkle is taking her mandatory 24-hour break. The two have opened up more than a 25-mile lead over the parade of other mushers who have come off their 24's and are now following them to the ghost town that marks the halfway point to Nome.

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