This afternoon in Anvik, 3 former Iditarod champions: John Baker, Jeff King, and Lance Mackey sat with KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen to talk about the race so far, and look ahead at what’s to come.
Kotzebue’s John Baker declared his 8-hour layover in Anvik at 12:27pm this afternoon. He said the warm weather is definitely factoring into his race this year. The warmer temperatures are forcing him to run the dogs slower, which should result in a strong team in the end. At the same time, he’s wanting to remain competitive with fellow mushers who appear to be running faster. But he’s running his team, hoping for the best, and looking to keep the fight going until the very end. “There’s a lot of different things happening in this race, for the first time actually, people trying different tactics: some of them working, some of them not. But it’s been a very interesting race. I’m enjoying it. I’m not doing as well as I’d like, but we won’t end it that way, we’ll get better.”
Jeff King declared his 8-hour layover Anvik, but judging his dogs’ energy level heading into the checkpoint, he’s considering moving on up the Yukon before taking his long rest. He says they don’t look tired yet. “I don’t make a schedule. I run by how the dogs are doing, and outside factors: the health of the dogs, their condition, how they’re eating, and certainly the weather.”
King says he feels pretty good about his position at this point, and his team is eating and drinking with no issues. “It’s pretty risky to be leading this race right now, going up the Yukon all by your lonesome. Because all of a sudden you have all of that responsibility. You have a lot of people chasing you.” King is confident his team has another few gears left in them. He hopes that shorter runs and more frequent rests during some earlier stretches of the trail may have saved the dogs some energy for the end of the race: “I haven’t even hooked all my dogs’ tug lines to my sled yet. Coming in now, the dogs are on their collars. Absolutely, they’ve got a lot of power and speed.”
Lance Mackey checked into Anvik this morning at 9:52am, and also says his dogs are eating well: “They’ve been eating like champs since like Takotna… Food is fuel. Without fuel, you aren’t going far.” Feeling good about his dogs’ performance, Lance is looking ahead, planning his runs through the next few checkpoints up the Yukon River to Kaltag. Using the trail as a learning experience, he’s trying different dogs in lead and helping them to get experience in other new positions. He’s having fun, and realizing again why he started into this sport: “It wasn’t about winning Dodge trucks and breaking records, it was about spending time with my dogs in the middle of a state I love, and having a good time doing it.”
At the time of posting, John Baker and Lance Mackey remain in Anvik. Jeff King followed through with his plan to continue on the trail up the Yukon River. He left Anvik at 4:06pm.