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In Takotna: Rick Swenson and Kristy Berington

Where – and when – an Iditarod musher rests his or her team can be decisive, and the consequences of a specific run/rest strategy can be difficult to predict. As longtime race veteran Rick Swenson describes, “it’s all a gamble.”

All mushers must take a 24-hour layover during their run on the trail, and in recent decades, the Takotna checkpoint has become a popular place to rest.

Our race reporter Laureli caught up with Swenson in Takotna on Wednesday. Swenson is Iditarod’s only five-time champion; he’s been in the race since the 1970s, and he’s hoping to finish first again in 2010. Swenson shared his insights on why a musher might, or might not, decide to take the 24-hour layover in Takotna. He also talked about a basic but crucial factor in choosing a layover site: water.

Also in Takotna is Kristy Berington, an Iditarod rookie from northern Wisconsin. Berington talked with Laureli about this year’s challenging Farewell Burn, as well as her hopes for dog mushing beyond 2010:

At the time of writing – 7:35pm on Wednesday – both Rick Swenson and Kristy Berington are reported into the Takotna checkpoint. Swenson arrived at 3:17am early Wednesday morning with 16 dogs; Berington arrived with 13 dogs at 3:53pm.