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In Nenana, Mushers Report Soft Snow on Early Stretches of Iditarod Trail

Monica Zappa arriving at the Nenana checkpoint

Iditarod teams Monday afternoon made good time running to the first checkpoint of Nenana, despite soft snow on the trail. Many teams passed through, choosing to camp down the trail following their first run from the starting line in Fairbanks. But others stuck around, including Aniak musher Richie Diehl.

“That trail coming in was pretty soft,” Diehl said. “I mean, I was standing on the drag the whole way here, but it was a soft trail, just trying to keep them slow.”

For Monica Zappa, pockets of soft snow kept the course interesting.

“There were definitely holes; sometimes, your lead dogs would disappear out of sight,” Zappa said. “There was, like, a three-foot hole they fell into.”

In the first of five 80-plus mile runs of the race, the trail from Nenana continues on the Tanana River 90 miles to Manley Hot Springs. As the sun set Monday evening, longtime racer DeeDee Jonrowe planned to get in a good rest before driving her team on the next big leg:

“My thoughts are, you better break that up. If you have a really hard team that’s raced, you could consider making that in a 10-hour run, but I don’t think that’s the smartest for this group. 10 hours, that’s a long time, in cold weather like this.”

Temperatures were expected to drop to 30 degrees below zero on the first night of the race.