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In Ruby: Western Alaskans

Recent temperatures have been exceptionally low on the Iditarod trail: especially along the Yukon River, from which race leaders (Lance Mackey, Hans Gatt, Jeff King, and others) departed on Saturday afternoon. For some mushers, 35 below was less than ideal, but Kotzebue musher Robert Nelson says he likes the cold – and so do his dogs.

Nelson spent a few minutes during his time at the Ruby checkpoint talking with our Iditarod reporter Laureli. He explained why he’s hoping for cold temperatures and shared a bit of his strategy for tackling the rest of the Yukon:

In Ruby, Laureli also talked with two other Western Alaskan mushers: Bethel’s Pete Kaiser and Unalakleet’s William “Middie” Johnson.

Kaiser discussed his run into Ruby, as well as his run/rest strategy for the race overall. The rookie musher talked about what he’s learned from Iditarod 2010, plus why he saved his money to buy a few dogs off of Jeff King:

In Ruby, Middie Johnson talked with Laureli about his run on the long stretch from Cripple, why he recently dropped a few dogs from his team, and his plan for making the run to Unalakleet (his hometown). Johnson also talked about food: specifically, what makes his trail food different from most of his competitors:

As of early Sunday morning, Robert Nelson is in 20th position; he departed the Nulato checkpoint at 10:32pm (Saturday) with 13 dogs. Pete Kaiser is in 33rd position; he left Galena at 7:45pm on Saturday with 12 dogs. Middie Johnson is in 34th; his team pulled out of Galena at 11:45pm Saturday night with 12 dogs.

Please note: because of technical difficulties while recording, the audio clips above are softer (in volume) and tinnier than most of our audio posts. You may need to adjust your computer speakers (or headphones) to best listen to these interviews.