Aliy Zirkle pulled into Kaltag in first position Saturday morning. She was in good spirits but said both she and her dogs were in need of rest – not least because of some involuntary naps along the trail.
Zirkle’s dogs were also facing an issue with hair loss on their feet, related to moisture buildup and the friction of long runs on the trail.
Hear Aliy Zirkle arriving into the Kaltag checkpoint, interviewed by KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen:
John Baker also seemed to be having a good run into the Kaltag checkpoint. He arrived there more than 3 hours after Zirkle but with an almost identical split time: Baker took 4 hours and 55 minutes to run from Nulato to Kaltag, versus Zirkle’s 4 hours 54 minutes.
The Kotzebue musher told Laureli that the trail was becoming more favorable to his dogs, which are accustomed to the hard, wind-packed snow of northwestern Alaska.
With Laureli, Baker talked about his hopes for his dogs to increase their fast runs, as well as his thoughts on the possibility of breaking his own Iditarod record in 2012:
As of 9pm Saturday, both Aliy Zirkle and John Baker have departed Kaltag, both with 12 dogs (Zirkle dropped two in Kaltag). Aliy Zirkle left at 4:55pm, John Baker at 6:30pm.