For Kotzebue’s Quinn Iten and Unalakleet’s William “Middie” Johnson, the 24-hour layover in Takotna was a good break. Both men are rookies, and their first stay in the checkpoint included “all the food I could eat and all the sleep I could want” (Iten) and a chance to “share Native food” and “make new friends” (Johnson).
Our race reporter Laureli caught up with both mushers in Takotna, shortly before they returned to the trail.
Quinn Iten struck an optimistic tone about his dog team and also about his fellow Western Alaskan rookies. Iten, Johnson, and Mike Williams, Jr. (of Akiak, Alaska) recently have been bunched together in the race standings; at the Takotna checkpoint, they arrived and departed within approximately an hour of each other. Although Iten says that’s mostly a coincidence, they’ve still been enjoying each other’s company:
Laureli spoke with Middie Johnson in his last few minutes at the checkpoint. He stressed “patience” in heading up the trail, even as he’s excited to approach the checkpoints on the Yukon (River):
As of 9:10pm on Thursday, Middie Johnson is in 33rd position; he departed Ophir at 1:12pm with 14 dogs. Quinn Iten is 34th; he departed Ophir at 1:35pm with 13 dogs.