Aliy Zirkle First Musher Into Takotna

Photo by Patrick Yack, APRN - Anchorage

About 34 teams are taking their mandatory 24-hour break in Takotna during this year’s Iditarod sled dog race. The church and other buildings are filled with sleeping mushers. Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle was the first to reach the checkpoint late last night. She says so far, she hasn’t had any surprises.

Zirkle says her dogs might also be doing well because they are so light-weight. They aren’t as likely to punch through the soft snow as the larger dogs. Zirkle will leave a little after 1 am on Thursday morning, a few minutes behind Mitch Seavey. Their times have been adjusted to take into account when they left Willow. Seavey says he’s much further ahead in the standings this year than he usually is at this point in the race. This year he’s prioritizing not only his dogs’ health and longevity, but also his own. He’s taking more naps.

Defending champion John Baker also says he’s doing better at this stage in the race than normal.

But he says his large dogs are in lower spirits because of the warm temperatures.

Long-time musher DeeDee Jonrowe says the weather is having mixed effects on her team and the trail. She says the snow has been helpful so far but the wind has caused problems. And she ran into trouble before Nikolai, and broke her sled.

Every musher is required to take a 24-hour rest and must also stop for 8 hours in White Mountain. The Busers- Martin and Rohn- pushed through Takotna and are resting 23 miles down the trail in Ophir.

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Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at Read more about Anne here.

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