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Martin Buser, happy to take his Yukon rest in Ruby

Martin Buser approaches Ruby

Around dinnertime Thursday, Martin Buser mushes his team about a half-mile out of the Ruby checkpoint.

It’s “perfect timing,” Martin Buser says, that the longtime musher arrived at Ruby at the time he did.

His dogs were starting to slow down a bit in the Cripple–Ruby run, and after two long stretches of trail – Ophir to Cripple and Cripple to Ruby, each of which took him about 10 hours to complete – Buser said it was a great time for a rest.

At the Ruby checkpoint, where he caught up with KNOM trail reporter Laureli Kinneen, Martin Buser elected to take his Yukon River layover. All mushers must take an 8 hour rest somewhere along the Yukon; in northern-route years (even years, like 2014), that means either Ruby, Galena, Nulato, or Kaltag.

Martin Buser talks with Laureli

With Laureli, Buser echoed a theme that’s been commonplace in this year’s Iditarod: “the dogs are fine,” he says, but “the driver’s not.”

The rough trail earlier in the race put a strain on Buser – in his own words, it “boogered” him up – as it did to many other mushers. It’s unusual, he says, to “get banged up like this” in an Iditarod. Especially considering a pinky finger that he dislocated a few days before the race – what is now a “movable object,” as Buser says – the musher told Laureli that it “just seems unprecedented how ‘boogered’ up I am.”

In Ruby, however, despite any physical ailments, Martin Buser seemed in generally good spirits. He also took time to thank a friend, Nome resident Pat Hahn, for his work each year on making the special calligraphy name labels that adorn each of his dog’s collars.

Buser's dog Baloo

Martin Buser’s dog Baloo, seen in Ruby sporting a dog collar with custom calligraphy done by Buser’s friend and Nome resident Pat Hahn.

Hear Martin Buser in Ruby:

At the time of writing, Martin Buser is one of only two mushers – Robert Sorlie is the other – to have completed both his Yukon River layover and his 24-hour layover. Currently in 2nd position, Buser departed Ruby at 2:44am with 14 dogs, down one dog from the 15 he brought into the checkpoint.