The 2016 Iditarod starts in about 30 minutes. Check out the official race blog, which details the last-minute preparations at Willow Lake as mushers gather for the official start.
Scott Janssen will be first out of the chute at 2 pm Alaskan (6 pm Eastern). He will be followed by another sled every two minutes until the 85th contestant, Martin Koenig, leaves at 4:48 Alaskan time.
Don’t worry about Mr. Koenig, though. Each competitor has to stay extra time at one of the check points, equivalent to the amount of time they got to leave ahead of the last sled. For example, since the first musher is 2 hours and 48 minutes ahead of the last, the first one will be held at a way point for 2 hours and 48 minutes. The 2nd to last musher will be held only 2 minutes because he’s only 2 minutes ahead of the last guy.
Check back daily for an update on the standings, and be sure to explore the official Iditarod site for tons of information about the race.
Please note: I’m using stock photos because I don’t have permission to use photos from the real race. What’s interesting to me is that most of the dog teams are made up of mixed-breed dogs. I always picture Malamutes and Huskies running the race, as shown in movies. However, most of the mushers seem to prefer mutt-i-grees.
I wish I had known this earlier, I would have given you advance warning. For the first time, the Iditarod ceremonial start is being live-streamed FOR FREE at Iditarod.com. Take a few minutes and check out these powerful working dogs and their handlers. The last racer is scheduled to take off at 1:04 pm Alaskan time, which is 5:04 pm in the East.
The actual timed race will begin on Sunday at 2 pm Alaksan time (6 pm Eastern). I’ll be bringing you the standings every day until it’s over – usually about 10 days.
One of the problems for planners this year has been the lack of snow, leaving a very icy trail. We’ll have to see how that impacts the race as it progresses. This being an even year, they are taking the Northern Route, which one would assume would mean more snow.
The live stream broadcast is really a good idea, I think. For all of the haters who think the dogs are being forced or whipped to do something they don’t want to do, this shows that the dogs CANNOT WAIT to get started. There are, in fact, people holding them back until it’s their turn to go.
In 1st place, leaving the checkpoint at Shaktoolik at 7:12 this morning: Aliy Zirkle.
The rest of the leader board is still in Shaktoolik, with arrival times this morning as noted below:
Jeff King: 4:46
Martin Buser: 5:27
Sonny Lindner: 5:53
Dallas Seavey: 7:07
Last year’s winner, Mitch Seavey left Unalakleet at 1:39 this morning and is headed for Shaktoolik.
Nicolas Petit, who was in the top five yesterday, has scratched. He had reported some problems with his sled way back at Nickolai on March 4th, but repaired it enough to make it to about 11 miles outside Unalakleet. According to blogger Joe Runyan, After having been pummeled on the trail, banged his knees, watched his $2000 sled trashed by an unmerciful trail, and leaped over tundra tussocks standing to his waist, Nicolas was in the mood for a focused 15 minute rant about the difficult and obstinate trail. He was quick to point out that the trail was good for DOGS, just not humans.
Petit scratched at 6:45 Saturday evening, saying that his team was fatigued and that he felt it was best that he call it a race and try again next year.
The leaders in the 2014 Iditarod are about 2/3s of the way done, having made it through Kaltag.
The leader board shows Aliy Zirkle in the lead, having left Kaltag just after 3 am. She was followed by Martin Buser at 5:34, Nicolas Petit at 7:14, Sonny Lindner and Jeff King, who both left the checkpoint at 8:32. All have completed both their 8-hour and their 24-hour layovers.
Kaltag is 629 miles from the start in Anchorage. The race ends in Nome, 975 miles from the start.
Those of you who follow this annual race may remember that Zirkle finished 2nd last year, followed by King in 3rd place, Petit in 6th, and Lindner in 9th. Last year’s winner, Mitch Seavey, is currently running in 6th place, having left Kaltag about an hour after Lindner and King.
Most of the top ten race teams have either arrived or left the Nulato checkpoint, 393 miles from the finish line. With today’s Nome temperature again well below zero (-28 last I checked), I know they’re thinking 393 miles is about 392 miles too long!