In White Mountain on Tuesday morning, Jake Berkowitz had ample reasons to feel upbeat.
With easily the largest team in Iditarod’s top competitors – 15 dogs, compared to the 10 dogs of both Mitch Seavey and Aliy Zirkle – Berkowitz emphasized his insistence upon looking after his team, even in the final hours of the race.
“Dog care is our number-one priority, always,” he told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen. Even though Berkowitz is in close standings with Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Nicolas Petit – the three mushers pulled into White Mountain in a span of only 8 minutes – he says he won’t push his dogs more than they’re able, even in the last 77 miles of the race.
“These dogs have already run 930 miles; the last thing I’m going to do is drive ‘em hard the last 70. 6th, 7th, or 8th: it doesn’t really mean too big of a difference to me.”
Regardless of how he finishes, Berkowitz is looking forward to finishing, and he’s confident that his top-ten status will hold.
“We’re ready for a party in Nome.”
As of 11:30am Tuesday, Jake Berkowitz is in 8th position; he arrived into White Mountain at 9:25am with his impressively-large string of 15 dogs.