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.