Ever Wonder about “Dropped Dogs”?

March 16

Are you curious what it means when someone talks about “dropped dogs” at a checkpoint?  Here are a few pictures from the airport near the Huslia checkpoint.   A few dogs were getting a 1st class ticket Alaska style back from the checkpoint back to Anchorage where handlers from each team wait for any team members leaving the race early.

By the way, it was still -42F in Huslia yesterday morning.  

Checkpoint #6 Huslia

March 15/16

At 441PM Sunday 15th, Trent checked in to Huslia.  Huslia is a village on the Koyukuk River.  Huslia has never hosted an Iditarod checkpoint.  With the race start moved to Fairbanks this year, a loop from Galena to Huslia, back through Koyukuk to Nulato was added to help accumulate the 1,000 mile distance.  Huslia is one of the most dog sled tradition rich communities in Alaska, and the village organized and provided hospitality to mushers and guests at an incredible level.     A few pictures of the community, the feast they layed out continuously for days, and the checkpoint below. 

Trent covered the 84 miles from Galena to Huslia in 20 hours, 41 minutes and rested in Huslia for 14 hours before heading back on the trail at 732AM this morning, the 16th.  I know that Trent was looking forward to spending time in Huslia, as “who knows when I’ll get there again”.    I’m sure he and the dog team enjoyed the long rest and hospitality there.  Trent left Huslia with 14 dogs, “dropping” 2 dogs behind who will meet Jake and Greg in Anchorage in the day or two to come.  Trent was one of the last teams running 16 dogs at this point.  Trent and the puppy team are in 68th place of the 78 mushers that started the race. 

Checkpoint #5 - Galena

March 14, 2015

At 153PM Saturday, Trent checked in to Galena.  Galena was a Native American fishing camp and in WWII became home to a military base and was a active forward operations base during the cold war.  The base has since been shut down.  The population of the town is 470.   On the 1925 Serum Run, Bill McCarty and Edgar Noliner relayed the antitoxin from Ruby to Galena.

Trent covered the 50 miles from Ruby to Galena in 6 hours 33 minutes at an average speed of 7.63 mph. 

I flew out to the Galena checkpoint to say hi to Trent and move on up the trail.  A few pics of Galena, approach, meeting Trent at the checkpoint, and the dogs basking in the sun.  I did find out from Trent that the 3-4 dogs who were “loose in the caboose” where not the only ones, and had not completely recovered. The entire team has diarrhea, and Trent and the vets administered another round of electrolytes and medicine.  It seems that a lot of teams have the same condition as well.  Trent says the team is doing great, but taking lots of water and lots of rest.   Everyone is eating and hydrating well, and hopefully everyone plays through.  Trent left Galena with all 16 dogs at 8PM after a 6 hour rest.   We left at 430, and Trent was just getting his own meal so I am sure he had less than 2 hours rest before pulling the hook and heading to Huslia.


Trent out of Ruby with 16 dogs at 0720 AKST

March 14

Trent left Ruby right at his 24 hour rest time with a full team.   Good news!   50 miles to Galena and 84 more miles to Huslia.  It would be a very good sign to see Trent and the team hitting Huslia early afternoon tomorrow.  

Humor below, Trent and Billy Gibbons.. twin sons of different mothers?   "Every Girl's Crazy About a Sharped Dressed Musher"!?


Trent must be taking his 24 in Ruby

March 13

My guess was wrong.   Trent did not rest a bit in Ruby and head on to Huslia for this 24 hour mandatory rest.  

Trent arrived in Ruby at ~ 645 this Friday morning and is still there 16 hours later.  He is clearly taking his 24 there.  Expect the team to fire out of the shoot right about 700 AKST tomorrow/Saturday morning.   

Again, seeing 16 dogs check out of Ruby will be key.   The next checkpoint is Galena, about 50 miles, 6-8 hours down the trail.   It has been very cold the past few days on that stretch, as low as -30F to -40F at night.  Trent may well be setting himself up to run during the daytime as much as possible while it is so cold.   Many times, the strategy is to run at night when it is colder... when colder is -10F not -40F!

He should be in Galena late afternoon on Saturday.  


Checkpoint #4 - Ruby

March 13, 2015

At 0645AM Friday, Trent checked in to Ruby.  Ruby is a 1910 “gold rush” village on the Yukon.  It once was inhabited by over 3,000 people but now 170, mainly Native American Athabascans live there.  On the 1925 Serum Run, Titus Nikolai, Dan Corning, Edgar Kalland, and Harry Pitka were the mushers that relayed the antitoxin from Tanana to Ruby. 

Trent covered the 119 miles in 28 hours.  It is by far the longest distance between checkpoints in this year’s Iditarod and is reminiscent of the long hauls between checkpoints on the Yukon Quest.  Temperatures overnight in Ruby were reported to be -20F, but it was likely -30F to -40 F on the Yukon.

Looking at the tracker data, Trent split the 28 hour run into three, nearly equal, ~ 5 hour runs with two ~ 6.5 hour rests.   This would put his moving speed over the 119 miles and ~15 hours, right at 8 mph.    I bet the last 40 miles were cold getting in at 645 this morning.  It will be interesting to see if Trent decides to 24 here in Ruby or keep the “5 on, 6.5 off” going and take the long rest in Galena or Huslia. 

There are good reasons for Trent to stop in any of the checkpoints to 24.  In 2010, Trent’s class made snowshoes based on Athabascan traditional design, and took one of the pairs to George Albert in Ruby.   Galena is just one more 50 mile run away.  Huslia is the halfway point on the trail, and this is the first time the race has stopped in Huslia.  It is a village of great mushing tradition and the village is going all out in terms of reception for the race and hospitality for the mushers.  Take a look on the Iditarod Insider at some of the videos of Aaron Burmeister's arrival last night as 1st musher to Huslia.  It’s another 84 miles from Galena to Huslia.  My guess today is that Trent will keep his run/rest going and go experience Huslia for the teams’ “long” 24 hour rest.  We'll see.  

Trent in 2010 with Ruby native George Albert and family.


Thursday 0245 AKST, Out of Tanana and On to Ruby with 16 dogs

March 12

Couldn’t wait for the 120 miles between Tanana and Ruby to post an update.    In what looked like good news to me, Trent checked out of Tanana at 245 this morning with all 16 dogs.  I was thinking that would be very key.   Three or four guys on the team had a little ‘loose caboose’ at the start and Trent was hopeful that they would run and eat their way back in to form.  It looks like 225 miles in to the race they may have.

Just looked at the GPS tracker, and it looks like Trent ran a little over 5 hours, stopping at 800 AM after a run of 43 miles.  Right in the 8 mph target range for him.   He will likely rest 4+hours now, and do the same run-rest two more times to cover the ~ 80 miles to Ruby, probably getting in to Ruby very early morning on Friday 13th.

Trent also took his mandatory 8 hour rest in Tanana, so for he now has his 24  mandatory rest and the required 8 hour rest in White Mountain to come.   It will be interesting to see if he decides to take his 24 in Ruby, Galena, or Husila at this point.  Changing my guess from yesterday that it would be Ruby.  I think he will rest 6-8 there and push on, let’s see.


Checkpoint #3 - Tanana

March 11, 2015

The 3rd checkpoint in the race is the village of Tanana (pop 308, ~80% native American), where the Tanana River flows in to the Yukon River.

On the original 1925 Serum Run, Johnny Folger and Sam Joseph carried the diphtheria anti-toxin from Manley Springs to Tanana.   Race map below to gauge where we are at.

At about 600 PM AKST, Trent checked in to Tanana.  He covered the 66 miles in 12 hours, 43 minutes.  His run times have been consistently at 8 mph, right on training and race target.  He left Manley Hot Springs with all 16 dogs.   From the Analytics tracker, copied below, it looks like Trent broke the run in two ~ 4 hour runs and a ~4-1/2 rest in between. 

If things are going great, I would expect Trent to rest 4 to 6 hours and leave Tanana with all 16 dogs.   Checkpoint # 4 is Ruby and it is a long, cold 120 miles down the Yukon.   Trent will likely have three 4-5 hour runs with two 4-6 hour rests in between if weather and the team and luck are all aligned.  This would put him at about 24 hours to make the journey to Ruby and put him there, at say midnight tomorrow/Thursday.   My guess is that he takes his 24 hour layover in Ruby.   We shall see.  If this all happens to plan, I bet we will see him slowly but surely move from the back of the pack.   The race leaders are just now arriving in Ruby.  


Iditarod Official GPS Race Tracker

March 11

I suspect many folks have an "Iditarod Insider" subscription and are using the GPS tracker to follow the race.  

If you don't and you are interested in "diving deep", it's highly recommended.  Go to the 'Insider' tab at the main menu of the Iditarod.com website, and choose 'Be an Insider".  For $33.95 you get the online, interactive GPS tracker shown below and a lot of great videos and commentary on the race.  

If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and wondering how Trent is doing,... just roll out of bed, fire up your tracker, and you will know.  

Email me at tim@trentherbst.com  if you get a subscription and have any questions on using the tracker.