Posts Tagged With: Iditarod updates

Iditarod Dog Dies


Dorado was part of musher Paige Drobny’s team.

Sad news. On Friday, Fairbanks musher Paige Drobny’s dog Dorado (pictured above) died at a dog lot in Unalakleet after being buried beneath a snowdrift. Drobny had dropped Dorado from her team at the Unalakleet checkpoint last Monday because he was showing signs of stiffness.

It’s routine for mushers to drop dogs at checkpoints if they’re injured, ill, or overtired. The dogs are flown back to Anchorage to be reunited with their owners at the end of the race.

Dropped dogs in Unalakleet are housed in two airport storage buildings. However, a storm on Thursday kept a plane scheduled to pick up some of the dogs from landing. As a result, there were 135 dogs in the lot that night, an unusually high number.  A hundred dogs were kept in the storage buildings while 35 dogs, including Dorado, had to be kept in a spot behind the buildings where volunteers felt they would be protected from the wind.

The dogs were last checked at 3:00am Friday morning, but between that time and daylight a snowdrift passed through and covered about half a dozen dogs. When volunteers realized what had happened, they began digging furiously for Dorado, but by the time they found him, he was dead. None of the other dogs were harmed.

A necropsy on the five-year-old dog determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation as a result of being buried in the snow.

It is the first Iditarod-related dog death since 2009.

Sled dogs can withstand temperatures as low as -80F, and it is common for such dogs to curl up during blizzards and survive burial beneath the snow. It is not known why Dorado died and the other dogs survived. Dorado showed no signs of illness before the storm, other than the stiffness coming into the checkpoint.

It is unknown at this point if Dorado’s death will lead to changes by the Iditarod Trail Committee in how dropped dogs are housed.

Drobny said on her Facebook page that she was “deeply saddened” by the death. Her husband, Cody Strathe, who is also a musher, said there was a sense of sadness among the musher community in Nome upon hearing about Dorado.

“Nothing can be done now to change this, we are still collecting the facts and will be putting pressure on ITC to make recommended changes before the next race occurs,” Strathe told a reporter. “We have a tremendous amount of support amongst this year’s mushers, and we just hope that this horrible accident can help future sled dog events.”

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Iditarod XLI Ends with a Red Lantern and a Roll in the Snow

Christine Roalofs

Christine Roalofs receives Red Lantern Award in Iditarod XLI.

Iditarod XLI is officially over. At 1:36 this afternoon (AKDT), rookie Christine Roalofs was the last musher off the trail, crossing the Burled Arch in Nome in 54th place. Well-wishers dressed in green for St. Patrick’s Day lined the chute cheering on her dog team. “That was epic!” Roalofs exclaimed to Iditarod Race Marshall Mark Nordman as he welcomed her with a hug. “The worst and best two weeks of my life.”

Afterwards, Roalofs showed her lead dog Nighty some love, rolling around with him in the snow. “You saved our butts out there, big guy,” she told him.

As the last musher off the trail, Roalofs was presented with the Red Lantern Award from Wells Fargo. She then completed the tradition of blowing out the Widow’s Lamp, marking the official end of the race.

Below is a list of the mushers who came in 46th through 54th place. It includes the mushers’ names, residences, number of dogs at the finish line, and completion times. The letter (r) denotes rookies.

46. Gerald Sousa, Talkeetna, AK, 10 dogs: 12 days, 2 hours, 20 minutes, 14 seconds

47. Louie Ambrose (r), St. Michael, AK, 12 dogs: 12 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 45 seconds

48. Angie Taggart, Ketchikan, AK, 11 dogs: 12 days, 8 hours, 50 minutes, 3 seconds

49. Luan Ramos Marques (r), Macae, Brazil, 15 dogs: 12 days, 17 hours, 8 minutes, 0 seconds

50. Mikhail Telpin (r), Yanrakkynot, Chukotka, Russia, 11 dogs: 12 days, 19 hours, 27 minutes, 39 seconds

51. Cindy Gallea, Wykoff, MN, 12 dogs: 13 days, 2 hours, 24 minutes, 13 seconds

52. James Volek (r), Big Lake, AK, 12 dogs: 13 days, 9 hours, 12 minutes, 53 seconds

53. Bob Chlupach, Willow, AK, 11 dogs: 13 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, 40 seconds

54. Christine Roalofs (r), Anchorage, AK, 11 dogs: 13 days, 22 hours, 36 minutes, 8 seconds

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Iditarod XLI: 36th through 45th Place Finishers

The 36th through 45th place finishers arrived in Nome yesterday and today. Listed below are the mushers’ names, residences, number of dogs at the finish line, and completion times. The letter (r) denotes rookies.

Rookie Travis Beals had the most dramatic finish. After blazing the trail all the way from White Mountain, he asked his girlfriend to marry him beneath the Burled Arch. She said yes.

36. Richie Diehl (r), Aniak, AK, 11 dogs: 10 days, 22 hours, 32 minutes, 6 seconds

37. Travis Beals (r), Seward, AK, 11 dogs: 11 days, 1 hour, 10 minutes, 51 seconds

38. Justin Savidis, Willow, AK, 9 dogs:11 days, 1 hour, 12 minutes, 14 seconds

39. Matt Giblin, Sterling, AK, 11 dogs: 11 days, 1 hour, 20 minutes, 51 seconds

40. Karin Hendrickson, Willow, AK, 10 dogs: 11 days, 1 hour, 44 minutes, 48 seconds

41. Aaron Peck, Bezanson, Alberta, Canada, 7 dogs: 11 days, 2 hours, 9 minutes, 37 seconds

42. Kristy Berington, Kasilof, AK, 9 dogs: 11 days, 7 hours, 7 minutes, 17 seconds

43. Anna Berington, Kasilof, AK, 9 dogs: 11 days, 7 hours, 7 minutes, 55 seconds

44. Jodi Bailey, Chatanika, AK, 9 dogs: 11 days, 7 hours, 52 minutes, 2 seconds

45. Mike Williams Sr., Akiak, AK, 9 dogs: 12 days, 0 hours, 35 minutes, 50 seconds

Currently, there are nine mushers still on the trail. Bob Chlupach is carrying the Red Lantern. All mushers should be in to Nome some time tomorrow, in time for Sunday’s presentation banquet.

Out of Safety

Gerald Sousa

Out of White Mountain

Louie Ambrose (r)

Angie Taggart

In White Mountain

Luan Ramos Marques (r)

Mikhail Telpin (r)

Out of Elim

Cindy Gallea

In Elim

James Volek (r)

Out of Koyuk

Christine Roalofs (r)

Bob Chlupach

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ABC News Story on Lost Dog ‘May’

Yesterday, I mentioned that Newton Marshall’s dog (actually Jim Lanier’s dog) May had been found in the Big Lake area. I spelled her name “Mae,” but the correct spelling is “May.” has the full story of May’s journey. You can also see a picture of her:

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Update on Cindy Abbott

Yesterday, I posted about Cindy Abbott scratching in Kaltag due to a shoulder injury and out of concern for her dog team. Apparently, there is a lot more to the story. It comes not from the Iditarod Trail Committee but the Orange County Register. Columnist David Whiting reports that Abbott had to be rescued outside of Kaltag with a broken pelvis and extreme hypothermia. When the medical team reached her late Wednesday night, she was in shock.

Abbott is in better condition now. Whiting was able to talk to her as she was being evacuated by bush plane to a hospital in Anchorage. She was in good spirits and had only positive things to say about her experience.

Whiting gives a day-to-day account of Abbott’s race and the challenging conditions she faced here:

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Iditarod XLI: 21st through 35th Place Finishers

The 21st through 35th place finishers arrived in Nome yesterday and today. Listed below are the mushers’ names, residences, number of dogs at the finish line, and completion times. The letter (r) denotes rookies.

21. John Baker, Kotzebue, AK, 12 dogs: 9 days, 21 hours, 49 minutes, 16 seconds

22. Brent Sass, Manley Hot Springs, AK, 8 dogs: 9 days, 23 hours, 24 minutes, 3 seconds

23. Michael Williams Jr., Akiak, AK, 9 dogs: 10 days, 1 hour, 57 minutes, 30 seconds

24. Michelle Phillips, Tagish, Yukon Territory, Canada, 13 dogs: 10 days, 2 hours, 22 minutes, 9 seconds

25. Jessica Hendricks, Two Rivers, AK, 7 dogs: 10 days, 4 hours, 57 minutes, 49 seconds

26. Kelley Griffin, Wasilla, AK, 9 dogs: 10 days, 9 hours, 47 minutes, 34 seconds

27. Curt Perano, Queenstown, New Zealand, 10 dogs: 10 days, 13 hours, 21 minutes, 14 seconds

28. Matt Failor, Big Lake, AK, 10 dogs: 10 days, 13 hours, 39 minutes, 46 seconds

29. Lindwood Fiedler, Willow, AK, 12 dogs: 10 days, 15 hours, 0 minutes, 52 seconds

30. Mike Ellis (r), Two Rivers, AK, 10 dogs: 10 days, 16 hours, 35 minutes, 13 seconds

31. Kelly Maixner, Big Lake, AK, 9 dogs: 10 days, 16 hours, 57 minutes, 36 seconds

32. Wade Marrs, Wasilla, AK, 9 dogs: 10 days, 17 hours, 5 minutes, 18 seconds

33. Allen Moore, Two Rivers, AK, 13 dogs: 10 days, 18 hours, 4 minutes, 21 seconds

34 Paige Drobny (r), Fairbanks, AK, 10 dogs:  10 days, 18 hours, 15 minutes, 54 seconds

35. Jim Lanier, Chugiak, AK, 10 dogs: 10 days, 21 hours, 8 minutes, 46 seconds

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Cindy Abbott Scratches at Kaltag. Newton Marshall’s Dog Mae Found.

Cindy Abbott

OK, bad news first: Rookie Cindy Abbott of Irvine, CA, has scratched in Kaltag. Abbott suffered a muscle strain in her shoulder early in the race and felt that scratching was in the best interests of her and her dog team. She had 12 dogs in her team.

Abbott suffers from Wegener’s Granulomatosis, an incurable form of vasculitis. The rare disease obviously hasn’t slowed her down, however, as she climbed Mt. Everest not long after being diagnosed. A year later, she was training with Lance Mackey for the Iditarod.

Abbott is the 12th musher to scratch in this year’s race. Her scratch means that Bob Chlupach is now carrying the Red Lantern.

Now the good news: Newton Marshall’s dog Mae has been found. She was found by a snowmachiner in the Big Lake area, over 150 miles from where she got loose. Mae belongs to musher Jim Lanier from Chugiak, a suburb of Anchorage, and it is believed she was trying to find her way home. Good dog!

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Iditarod XLI: March 12 -13 Scratches

I’ve gotten a little behind reporting scratches that took place yesterday and today.

Yesterday afternoon, veteran Iditarod musher Robert Bundtzen of Anchorage, AK, scratched at Shaktoolik because his dog team was not performing to his expectations. He had 15 dogs in his team.

Also yesterday, Jan Steves of Edmonds, WA, scratched at Eagle Island out of concern for her dogs. She also had 15 dogs in her team.

This afternoon, rookie Charley Bejna of Addison, IL, scratched between Unalakleet and Shaktoolik out of concern for his dogs. Bejna was down to seven dogs in his team.

About half of the mushers are still on the trail. I’ll continue to provide updates on finishes and scratches.

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Iditarod XLI: 11th through 20th Place Finishers

Mackey Love

Don’t they have motel rooms in Nome?

The 11th through 20th place mushers have crossed the Burled Arch in Nome in Iditarod XLI. Below is a list of their names and completion times.

11. Aaron Burmeister (9 days, 14 hours, 19 minutes, 2 seconds)

12. Ken Anderson (9 days, 16 hours, 9 minutes, 20 seconds)

13. Peter Kaiser (9 days, 17 hours, 36 minutes, 34 seconds)

14. Josh Cadzow (9 days, 18 hours, 7 minutes, 37 seconds)

15. Cim Smyth (9 days, 19 hours, 8 minutes, 22 seconds)

16. Paul Gebhardt (9 days, 19 hours, 9 minutes, 32 seconds)

17. Martin Buser (9 days, 20 hours, 1 minute, 33 seconds)

18. Jessie Royer (9 days, 20 hours, 20 minutes, 15 seconds)

19. Lance Mackey (9 days, 20 hours, 52 minutes, 14 seconds)

20. Ramey Smyth (9 days, 20 hours, 54 minutes, 56 seconds)

Aaron Burmeister, who led the race during certain stretches, got edged out of the top ten by DeeDee Jonrowe on the final run from Safety to Nome. Even so, he was gracious at the finish line, giving thanks to the veterinarians who helped care for the dogs at the checkpoints.

I mentioned earlier that Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom will likely get Rookie of the Year. Josh Cadzow from Fort Yukon, Alaska is another rookie who ran a nice race, coming in 14th. Cadzow was in the middle pack for much of the race before making his move outside of Unalakleet and jumping ahead 10 positions before the finish. He came in with a big smile and an even bigger soft drink in his hand.

Martin Buser finished 17th, which I’m sure is a big disappointment after leading for much of the race. Yet he was all smiles at the finish, getting a big hug and kiss from his wife. Talking to reporters afterwards, he was philosophical about his failed strategy this year:

It’s fun to be able after 40 Iditarod years to still come up with a new maneuver, you know, so, people try different things all the time. The problem, of course, is that in this day and age with the competition you only have one shot at it. In my old Iditarods, we would make a move and then say, oh, that didn’t work, well, let’s try this. So you could regroup and do something else. There was not that much competition and you had enough fuel in the tank to try different things. Here, if something doesn’t work, if your initial or your primary strategy doesn’t work, it’s not gonna happen.

Also having a disappointing race was Lance Mackey, who came in 19th. Mackey suffered a chipped tooth, a frostbitten toe, and the near death of his dog Wyatt that had to be flown out of Eagle Island checkpoint for emergency treatment (the dog is fine now). He also had a camera crew following him throughout the race, filming a documentary about his life. I don’t think he could have provided more dramatic material for them. Like Buser, however, Lance got a little love at the finish. Actually, big love. He was literally knocked off his sled under the Burled Arch by his girlfriend, who pinned him to the frozen ground and fed him smooch pie. I guess she missed him. Later, Lance saw Jamaican musher Newton Marshall in the crowd and jumped into Newton’s arms. I guess Lance missed Newton.

This year’s race was a race of minutes, and, at times, seconds. Twenty-four minutes separated the winner, Mitch Seavey, and second-place finisher, Aliy Zirkle. Joar Leifseth Ulsom beat Jake Berkowitz for 7th place by a mere 16 seconds. Cim Smyth bested Paul Gebhardt for 15th by a minute and ten seconds. Lance Mackey crossed the finish line two minutes and 42 seconds ahead of Ramey Smyth to take 19th place.

Apparently, Lance and Ramey had a little trouble getting onto Front Street, navigating through the cars and crowds. Probably not the way you want to finish a 1,000-mile race.

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Iditarod XLI: Seavey Win Recap and Top Ten Finishers

Mitch Seavey Victory

Mitch Seavey beneath the Burled Arch in Nome with his lead dogs, Tanner and Taurus. AP Photo/Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth

Mitch Seavey can finally stop looking over his shoulder. He is the winner of the 41st Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, beating second-place finisher, Aliy Zirkle, by only 24-minutes–the same lead he had over her at the race’s last checkpoint of Safety 3 hours and 2 minutes earlier. Zirkle kept up the pressure on Seavey to the very end, never quite making up ground from Safety, but never losing it either.

Seavey’s win was notable for a couple of reasons. First, it made the 53-year-old Seward native the oldest winning musher in Iditarod history. Before last night, Jeff King held that distinction with his 2006 win at age 50. Second, it is the first time a father and son have won back-to-back victories in the Iditarod. Mitch’s son Dallas won last year’s race (again over Zirkle) at the age of 25, becoming the youngest musher to win the coveted title.

So now the Seavey clan can boast about having both the oldest and the youngest Iditarod champions.

Seavey has always bristled when asked about the age issue, but it was clear after last night’s victory that he was proud of his accomplishment. “This is for all of the gentlemen of a certain age who think it ends at 50, because it doesn’t,” he told the cameras and crowd surrounding Nome’s famed Burled Arch.

Seavey reached the Burled Arch last night at 10:39pm (AKDT). His completion time was 9 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes, and 56 seconds. (John Baker holds the record for the fastest time with his 2011 win in 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes, and 39 seconds.) Aliy Zirkle’s completion time was 9 days, 8 hours, 3 minutes, and 35 seconds. Jeff King came in third, a little more than an hour after Zirkle, with a finish time of 9 days, 9 hours, 21 minutes, and 56 seconds.

All three mushers gave affectionate pats and hugs to their dogs after crossing the finish. Seavey’s lead dogs, Tanner and Taurus, joined him at the winner’s podium wearing yellow victory garlands. Zirkle’s dogs, ravenous after an energy-fueled finish, chowed down on snacks beneath the Burled Arch. The 57-year-old King, weary, and perhaps tiring of media questions, lay down on Front Street with his lead dog Skeeter as cameras flashed.

Dallas Seavey’s fourth place finish was impressive given that halfway through the race, in the ghost town of Iditarod, he was more than 8 hours behind then-leader Martin Buser. He jumped 8 places in the second half of the race. DeeDee Jonrowe managed to get her 16th top ten Iditarod finish by passing Aaron Burmeister on the last leg between Safety and Nome.

It was an exciting race, starting with Martin Buser’s unprecedented nonstop run to the Rohn checkpoint 188 miles from the start. The bold move gave Buser a more than 4- hour lead ahead of second place Matt Failor, who was running a team of Buser’s dogs and also following his strategy, and a more than 7-hour lead ahead of the rest of the pack. Buser and Failor took their 24-hour mandatory rests in Rohn and were bypassed by other mushers who took their breaks further down the trail. But by Iditarod, Buser had retaken the lead, while Failor faded. Coming into Anvik, Buser again had a 4-hour advantage.

However, during his Yukon River run, Buser lost a considerable amount of his once seemingly insurmountable lead, as he battled fierce headwinds, ice, and rain. Mitch Seavey, who had never been far from the pack behind Buser, was only a little more than an hour behind him coming into Kaltag. Seavey cut his rest short in Kaltag and left around the same time as Buser. Buser stopped several times outside of Kaltag to rest and was passed by a host of mushers, including Seavey, Aaron Burmeister, Jeff King, and Aliy Zirkle. His initial 4-hour lead was gone, and he was clearly slowing. By the time he reached Unalakleet, Buser was in tenth place.

Buser’s slowdown halfway through the race may have been a result of his fast push at the beginning, or it may have been due to a batch of bad water he gave his dogs at the Iditarod checkpoint. It will be interesting to hear Buser’s assessment of where he felt his strategy went wrong once he finishes the race. As of this writing, he is currently between Safety and Nome.

The race after Kaltag was every bit as exciting, with Mitch Seavey, running a race of fundamentals, holding the lead into Unalakleet. He stayed on top until Koyuk, where he took a nearly four hour rest, allowing Jeff King to briefly steal the lead before stopping to break 8 miles outside the Koyuk checkpoint. The two mushers ended their rests at approximately the same time, and Seavey, apparently with a little more in the tank, was able to regain the lead over the laboring King.

Zirkle also passed King to take second place. Cutting her rest short in Elim, she left less than an hour after Seavey and by White Mountain she was only 13 minutes from the lead. The race from White Mountain, where all mushers must take a mandatory 8-hour break, was basically the sled-dog equivalent of a drag race. Seavey extended his lead to 24 minutes going into Safety, but from Safety to Nome his lead stayed the same. It was one of the closest finishes in Iditarod history.

Here are the top ten Iditarod XLI finishers and their completion times:

  1. Mitch Seavey (9 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes, and 56 seconds)
  2. Aliy Zirkle (9 days, 8 hours, 3 minutes, 35 seconds)
  3. Jeff King (9 days, 9 hours, 21 minutes, 56 seconds)
  4. Dallas Seavey (9 days, 10 hours, 20 minutes, 51 seconds)
  5. Ray Redington Jr. (9 days, 11 hours, 4 minutes, 54 seconds)
  6. Nicolas Petit (9 days, 11 hours, 39 minutes, 13 seconds)
  7. Joar Leifseth Ulsom (9 days, 12 hours, 34 minutes, 0 seconds)
  8. Jake Berkowitz (9 days, 12 hours, 34 minutes, 16 seconds)
  9. Sonny Lindner (9 days, 13 hours, 11 minutes, 2 seconds)
  10. DeeDee Jonrowe (9 days, 13 hours, 24 minutes, 39 seconds)
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