Aaron Burmeister was the first musher into Rohn southbound this afternoon. He pulled into Rohn at 4:26 this afternoon and he has all 14 dogs on the line.  His team has less than 200 miles to go.

Burmeister has been open with his rest strategy. He’s worked hard to pace his team so they will be competitive and lead the pack for the final push. He spoke with the Iditarod Insider at the McGrath southbound checkpoint about how he’s been keeping his team mentally and physically healthy, to be ready to summit the Alaska Range again.

“This is what we’ve been building the entire team for and it’s taken a lot of patience. But it’s the gameplan I came in with, to be conservative early… We carried into Ophir and put a 24 [layover] in right away because it’s a shorter rest. It’s a shorter race. It’s best to keep the dogs fresh and keep that rest stacked up. It put me behind but that’s something that was part of my plan. That was I’m not in a race with anybody, I’m focusing on keeping my dogs healthy… so that I’m back to the front by the last third. “

-Aaron Burmeister

Teams have never had to race this direction during the Iditarod. The stretch from Rohn to Rainy Pass where mushers are now headed is known for busting sleds and being hard on teams. This is the stretch that caused Aliy Zirkle to scratch earlier this race. The tight trails could also make for difficult passing as teams try to scramble for the lead.

In other news, Bethel musher Pete Kaiser scratched earlier today. His kennel wrote on their blog that his dogs were recovering from a virus and Kaiser did not feel comfortable taking them through the Alaska Range in their depleted state.

According to the official Iditarod leaderboard, Dallas Seavey is now officially back in first position after reaching Rohn southbound and breaking for only moments. Seavey was into Rohn with 12 dogs at 5:30pm and left at 5:36 with 12 dogs.

Image at top: Aaron Burmeister walks the dog line while making a short stop at Nikolai. Photo Credit: David Poyzer/The Iditarod, 2021.