For Aaron Burmeister, getting onto the Norton Sound coast was far from easy. “The run last night took the wind out of my sails, unfortunately,” he told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen earlier today. “It was a long night.”
Speaking in Unalakleet on Sunday, the Iditarod veteran remained focused on his dogs. The many challenges of the Kaltag-to-Unalakleet run (which, for Burmeister, took more than 13 hours) force him, now, to “gauge” just what his dogs can do – and what they can’t – as he continues the run towards Nome. A “whiteout snowstorm” and strong winds made the trail to Unalakleet “mentally, very challenging” for Burmeister’s team – and their musher.
Going forward, he emphasizes that he’ll continue to “make the dogs the number-one priority” in how he approaches the last few days of the race; he still hopes to win, of course, but only if the team is up for it.
Mushing to Unalakleet, however, wasn’t all bad for the Nome-grown musher. The outpouring of cheers and support that greeted Burmeister on Sunday morning were “incredible,” he says. “It made my day… It’s like a homecoming to me.”
As of 3pm Sunday, Aaron Burmeister and his team of 13 dogs are still reported in the Unalakleet checkpoint; he arrived at 10:27am. In his interview, he suggests that he will drop some of the dogs on his team before leaving for Shaktoolik; how many dogs he will drop has not officially been reported.