Today’s race activity is centered around the Galena checkpoint. In first place, Aaron Burmeister left Galena at 6:26 this morning, followed by Dallas Seavey at 8:48. In third place, Jeff King arrived at Galena at 4:37 this morning, followed by Aliy Zirkle at 5:54 and Martin Buser at 7:07. Seavey, King, and Buser have all completed their required 8-hour layover.
As far as dogs dropped, here are the stats for the top five teams:
1. Burmeister: Started with 16. Dropped 1 in Manley Hot Springs, 1 in Tanana, and 1 in Ruby, leaving 13 dogs out of Galena.
2. D. Seavey: Started with 16. Dropped 2 in Tanana. Left Galena with 14.
3. King: Started with 16. Arrived at Galena with 16.
4. Zirkle: Started with 16. Arrived at Galena with 16.
5. Buser: Started with 16. Dropped one in Tanana and one in Ruby. Arrived at Galena with 14.
It’s not at all unusual for dogs to be off-loaded at checkpoints. They are cared for by veterinarians until they can be flown to a “dropped dog yard” in Anchorage, McGrath or Unalakleet. Volunteers care for the dogs in the dropped dog lots until they are picked up by their owners.
According to Terrie Hanke, who stopped by the dropped dog lot in Anchorage, “Dogs are transported from the airport to the Millennium [Hotel] in a large dog trailer. As soon as they arrive, they are scanned for their micro-chip and then re-examined by the vets in this dropped dog lot. They get straw and blankets then they’re served kibble and water.”
One of the Teacher on the Trail finalists from several years ago organized a blanket drive. Classrooms of children from across the US provide dog-sized blankets for the dropped dog lots as well as for all of the checkpoints along the trail.
Dogs can be dropped due to problems with their paws, illness, exhaustion, or injury, either by musher choice or by veterinarian insistence. According to race rules, each musher can start the race with between 12 and 16 dogs, and must end with a minimum of 6 dogs.
Check back later in the day for information on the volunteer crew that makes the Iditarod possible every year.
Until next time,
Good day, and good dog!