Last note from Nome

Saturday March 18 743A AKDT

Talked with Trent briefly yesterday after the team was fed and bedded down in the dog yard after the race.  He said the trail was fantastic and they all had a great race and great camping trip.  He thought trail surfaces were pretty hard early in the race and he had a lot of wrist and shoulder challenges on the team.   He had to leave two of the best leaders Scott and Caribou at Checkpoint #3 in Tanana and four others very close to the end.  The sizes of the teams at the finishing line were definitely smaller this year.  Trent crossed the finish line with 8 dogs; Ayn, Blast, Percy, Hornet, Mary, Ruby, Boole, and Gordon.  

It was Trent's 10th 1000 mile finish; his 9th Iditarod and he he completed the Yukon Quest in 2012 in his only try there.  Ten for ten.  

Picture of Trent and Ayn at the Burled Arch.  Ayn made it!  It was her seventh Iditarod finish and the fifth she made with Trent.  She's off to a retirement as the Herbst house pet.

Picture of Trent the dog yard after getting the team fed and down for a good nap.  Note they are all strawed in, in the bottom half of travel kennels!  

Trent is in Nome and off the trail!

Friday March 17 315 PM AKDT

Trent and the team pulled in to Nome at 251P AKDT with an elapsed time of 11 days 2 hours 51 minutes and 14 seconds.   This was Trent's 2nd best time in finishing all 9 Iditarod races that he has entered.   His average speed was 3.63 mph and average moving speed was 7.6 mph.  The team finished 52nd of 71 teams that started the race.  

Eight of the sixteen dogs made it to Nome.  We'll get a report on the roster of finishers and post later and hopefully some pix from Ed and Jake on the ground.  

Here are a couple of shots from the live camera at the finish


Trent and team on the way to Nome!

Friday March 17 0600A AKDT

Trent and the team checked out of White Mountain this morning at 0334A AKDT for the final 77 meile run to Nome.  They stayed in White Mountain exactly 8 hours for their mandatory 8 hour rest there.  11 dogs checked in and 10 dogs will make the final leg to the finish line.  They left White Mountain in 52nd place. Trent should hit the Burled Arch finish line in Nome mid-afternoon today.  Anxious to see which team members made the 1000 mile journey.  

I hope one of them is Ayn.  Meet Ayn (named for Ayn Rand), she is the lead dog on the left in the picture below from this years start at Fairbanks.  

Ayn is a veteran of 7 Iditarods, several with Trent and she turns 10 later this year.  She is retiring after this race to be the Herbst family dog and already is.  She lives in their home and on the trail sleeps in sleeping bag with Trent.  Whenever they drive to a trailhead to train she rides in the car instead of in dog boxes in trailer.  No telling what the rest of team thinks of the "Queen Bee" but they follow her lead and she is a fearsome competitor.  Late in her career it seems she is not much interested in training until a month before the race and she goes right back to young ways.  Couple of shots of Ayn being Ayn below.

There is a live feed on the Iditarod site from the finish line.  Sometime between 1 and 3 AKDT you can see Trent and the team pull in.


Checkpoint #13: Trent and the team in to Elim

Thursday March 16 630A AKDT

Trent and the team just checked in to Elim (mile 856) at 618A, having left Koyuk at midnight.  They covered the 48 miles in 6 hrs 16 minutes for an average speed of 7.7 mph.   Trent checked in with all 11 dogs that left with him at Koyuk, hoping they all leave with him.  I know he wants them all to finish at this point.  

I suspect they will rest 6 hours or so and head out for the 46 mile journey to White Mountain sometime after noon.  White Mountain is the last real checkpoint before the final 77 miles to Nome.  All mushers must take a mandatory 8 hour rest in White Mountain.  Anything can happen on the Bering Sea coast, but generally it is thought that once you hit White Mountain you are a little over a half-day from crossing the finish line in Nome.  

All things going well and at the risk of jinxing him, Trent should be in Nome by noon tomorrow for St. Patty's day.   They don't need much for an excuse to celebrate in Nome during the Iditarod finish, and about guarantee it will be a lively day there tomorrow.  That would be a 10 day + finish and would rival his best race performances (archive below).   

Map of race trail below for reference.


Trent and team leave Shaktoolik...

Monday March 15th 1115A AKDT

Trent and all 11 dogs that checked in to Shaktoolik last night at bout 0200A ASDST left to cross the Norton Sound and head for Koyuk at 1006A.  They left in 49th place.  Below is a picture of a musher crossing the Norton Sound.  Winds can be 40 mph, temperatures can be -30F, and snowdrifts and ice can be huge.  

Fortunately, today looks like the best day possible for crossing the Norton Sound between Shaktoolik and Koyuk!

In 2015, mushers were holed up in Shaktoolik for as long as 30 hours at a time waiting for weather to break.  Trent was running a team of yearling puppies that year and was at the very back of the pack.  When he, Lachlan Clarke and Cindy Gallea decided they would go in the storm it was with some trepidation.   The trail markers are regularly spaced and easy to see in clear weather.  In a blinding storm, you can't see the next one, and there is no real path made by sleds on wind-blown ice.  At one point, the three mushers had lost the direction.   Visibility was evidently about 10 feet.  Trent said he agreed to walk out 5 minutes, and then walk a circle arc until he was able to to find a trail marker; then walk back directly to the center of the circle to find the other 2 and the dog teams.  Sounds good on a piece of paper, I don't quite know how he made that work on the ice but he did.   They were able to head back out to the trail marker Trent had found and make it to Koyuk.  

I was at the finish in Nome that year.  Lachlan, Cindy, and Trent all met at the end.  They hugged and cried.  Lachlan told me Trent had got them out of a pretty desperate situation.  


Checkpoint #11 Shaktoolik

Wed March 15 0600A AKDT

Trent and 11 pups pulled in to Shaktoolik just at 0200A AKDT after a 5 hour 58 minute, 40 mile run form Unalakleet.  Trent is still in 52nd place out of 73 mushers in the race.  Anxious to see if all 13 dogs leave the checkpoint tomorrow. Expect Trent to get some rest and get a morning start for a daylight crossing of the open water across the Norton Sound to the checkpoint at Koyuk.  

The spit town of Shaktoolik is the first picture below.  The town is in a battle with global warming.  The map from GPS tracker shows overland path to Koyuk from Shak.  This is often the most treacherous section of the race with extreme wind, cold, and no visibility.   Weather so far in Shak has been clear and calm and that is the forecast for today as well.  Let's hope for adventurous but safe crossing

Again, the run from Shaktoolik to Koyuk is one of, if not the most iconic leg in the Iditarod.   Made famous by Leonhard Seppala in the great Serum Run of 1925 to deliver diptheria serum to quell an epidemic in Nome.  It is part of the heritage of the Iditarod and the run, and choice to move quicker over the open sea of the Norton Sound is considered the greatest feat in the history of dog sledding.  

Leonard Seppala and his lead dog Togo are in the picture below, as well as the Serum Run Trail.

Forty-eight-year-old Seppala, with a team of dogs had left Nome with the intent of intercepting the serum at Nulato, unaware that the relays had been faster. Leaving Isaac's Point on the north side of Norton Bay that morning, traveled the 43 miles to just outside Shaktoolik, meeting Ivanoff there and taking the serum to return to Nome. 

At Shaktoolik, he turned his team around into the wind with a temperature of −30 degrees and darkness. He risked the 20 mile sea ice crossing between Cap Denbigh and Point Dexter in a blinding blizzard. Togo's sense of smell permitted them to stay on course got them to their stopping point on the North shore of Norton Bay, at an Eskimo sod igloo. Seppala fed the dogs and warmed the serum, hoping the blizzard would lessen. Early Sunday morning with −30 degree temperatures, deadly winds, and the storm not lessening, reached Dexter's Roadhouse at Golovin with completely exhausted dogs.Seppala had covered 91 miles, and the serum now 78 miles from Nome.  It was then relayed by Charlie Olson and Gunnar Kaasen to Nome.  The epidemic would soon be over.


Checkpoint #10 Unalakleet

Tuesday March 14 415P AKDT

The team just came across the portage off the Yukon River at Kaltag to the checkpoint at Unalakleet on the Bering Sea at mile 718.

They arrived at 149PM AKDT, covering the 85 miles in 15 hours 15 minutes.   They appeared to take about a 7 hour rest at a travel cabin, Old Woman Shelter, about 40 miles before Unalakleet.  The team checked in with 11 dogs in 52nd place.  

Unalakleet is an old fishing and trading village of about 700 residents.   From here the race is along the Bering Sea all the way to Nome.   Picture of sunset in the village from back in 2015, a couple of shots from same.

We ordered Trent a large meat-eaters pizza from Peace On Earth Cafe in Unalakleet.  Called them about 30 minutes before he arrived (according to GPS tracker)/  They take them right out to the checkpoint.  Anxious to see if he got it?

Race map for reference.


Checkpoints #7 to #9: Koyukuk, Nualto, Kaltag

Monday March 13 245 ADST 

Trent and team made a big run in the last 24 hours.  When we last left our bearded and canine friends they had stopped bout halfway from Huslia to Koyuku.   The passed through Koyukuk and Nualto this morning and afternoon and just pulled in to Kaltag at 237P AKST having run about 120 miles in the last 24 hours.   The team checked in to Kaltag with 12 dogs in 48th place

Kaltag is the last checkpoint on the Yukon and the trail now head overland, on an ancient portage to the Bering Sea town of Unalakleet.  

Ed Stielstra sent a few shots of Trent and the team from back at the Galena checkpoint.

Remember we talked a bit about the Great Serum Run of 1925.   Below again is the trail map, which is very close to the route for this years Iditarod.  Also below are the mushers that participated in the relay from the rail station in Nenana up through Kaltag.  Some of the most heroic parts of this journey are yet to come. 

Serum Run Trail

Serum Run Mushers up through Kaltag