Mushers and their teams are making their runs down the Yukon River. KNOM’s Emily Schwing caught up with two mushers who have roots in Western Alaska mushers to find out how their races are going.
Kotzebue musher John Baker pulled a tired team into the Galena checkpoint and declared his eight-hour layover almost immediately.
The former Iditarod champion says it was clear his team needed some down time to recover from a few minor problems.
“Like harness rub and little things – just unexpected things that slow them down,” Baker said.
He says his team is moving slower than he expected, but he’s not worried, because there are still days of racing ahead. He’s happy to have flat long river miles ahead.
“I like the river, it’s so much like home, I enjoy being on the river,” he said.
Baker says the most fun he’s had on the trail was during his 24-hour layover in Cripple.
Baker joined two Norwegians, at least one fellow past champion, and a handful of other mushers for some down time at the remote checkpoint.
“We helped each other with whatever the other was doing, even helped each other feed dogs and whatever,” Baker said. “We just had a wonderful time in Cripple.”
Parked right next to Baker’s team for their eight-hour layover was Noah Burmeister team. The young musher says he’s raised a few eyebrows this year.
“Nobody knows what to think about me right now,” Burmeister said. “I think everybody is kind of shocked, because I haven’t raced dogs or raced the Iditarod in 10 years and when I did race, I was running puppy teams, so nobody knows what type of dog driver I am. I think everybody’s getting their eyes opened up.”
Burmeister says a few minor bumps along the way have him 45 minutes behind his schedule.
“I busted the tongue off the trailer and had to stop and fix that and one of the cross braces on the handlebars broke,” he said. “Something’s gonna break out there. It’s juts a matter of figuring out where and when.”
Burmeister, like many mushers was using a trailer to ferry dogs up the trail, but he was one of the only mushers to drop it in Galena.
“… Just to start moving a little bit easier and less baggage…,” he said.
Joking aside, both Burmeister and John Baker are proving themselves formidable among this year’s tough competition.