A couple days ago, we were talking about the veterans in control of the race and today, we see a little change happening. Dallas Seavey has taken the lead, stopping about 10 miles out of Shaktoolik on the trail to Koyuk with Aaron Burmeister, Aliy Zirkle and John Baker choosing to stop in Shaktoolik. The run across the Norton Bay will happen with below zero temperatures. Teams are running out of time to try and catch the leader.
Dallas Seavey’s team coming into Shaktoolik looked very impressive so Dallas took advantage of that and went for 10 miles more before stopping. Mushers will stop on long runs to snack or rest the dogs. Most of the teams stop their teams at regular intervals to allow the dog’s body to recoup and regenerate their bodies. The colder temperatures will dehydrate the dogs so more watering is needed to keep the dogs hydrated.
The “three musketeers” was broken up today when Jake Berkowitz had a knife accident cutting his hand and he was withdrawn from the race given the severity of the cut hand. The other two, Ray Redington Jr. and Peter Kaiser continue to impress the field with the speed of their dogs. Another veteran, Jeff King scratched from the race about 11 miles out of Unalakleet due to sick dogs. He also stated the well groomed trail set up by the trail breakers and the speed of the race as a result of the nice trail.
More team have scratched today including Pat Moon who was driving Middy Johnson’s team. Pat cited the small dog team that he was driving (down to 7 dogs) as reason for the scratch. Expect more scratches further up the trail due to the cold and tough conditions faced so far in the race.
The race is down to the four teams in and out of Shaktoolik. Like earlier stated, options are decreasing for the mushers to disrupt the leader. A bold move can happen overnight or tomorrow to see if there can be a change in the top position. We also could see a race from White Mountain to Safety and who knows, maybe a front street showdown.
Sam Towarak, retired school teacher, dog musher, and sports commentator, lives in Unalakleet, Alaska.