From Saturday afternoon through Sunday morning, Iditarod 42′s competitors have been moving from one body of water to another: off of the Yukon River and onto the Norton Sound coast.
Yesterday, race leaders were passing through the transitional checkpoints of Kaltag and Unalakleet – Kaltag, the last of the Yukon stopovers (and the last chance to take the mandatory Yukon layover), and Unalakleet, the gateway to the Norton Sound.
Not too far past the horizon, about two days’ worth of mushing down the coast, the Nome finish line awaits.
Both for the lead mushers and the Iditarod officials and race fans following them, the race is now in full swing. The discretionary layovers (the 24-hour layover and 8-hour Yukon layover) have been completed for all but the back-of-the-pack mushers, which makes the mathematics of analyzing the race standings a bit easier. At this point, whoever is ahead in the standings truly is ahead in the race – at least, for the moment.
See photos from Saturday, in Kaltag and Unalakleet, as mushers turned their attention to the final push along the coast:
Race fans were out early Saturday morning to greet Martin Buser in Kaltag.
On Saturday morning, race veterinarians examine sled dogs on Hugh Neff’s team, a few minutes after his arrival in Kaltag (10:09am).
Aaron Burmeister departs Kaltag, Saturday morning (10:40am, with 10 dogs).
Mid-day on Saturday, looking down the Iditarod trail as it traverses the Yukon River, crossing into Kaltag. (The Kaltag checkpoint is behind the point of view in this picture.)
Martin Buser arrived into Unalakleet at 5:31pm Saturday with 14 dogs.
Sonny Lindner pulls into the Unalakleet checkpoint Saturday night: 6:09pm arrival, 14 dogs.
Moments after his Unalakleet arrival on Saturday evening, Sonny Lindner checks over his team.
Late evening on Saturday, the Unalakleet checkpoint stood ready for the competitors that were soon expected, with mushers’ feed bags stacked on the snow and an outdoor fire keeping water hot (and spewing steam into the air).
Moving mushers’ feed bags down to the ice, near sunset on Saturday night.
Jeff King talks with KNOM during a quick dinner inside the Unalakleet checkpoint, Saturday evening.