This trio of Iditarod mushers teamed up to navigate a heavy snowstorm

A woman in red with a dog
Iditarod musher Yuka Honda tries to reassure one of her sled dogs as musher Kailyn Davis helps apply ointment. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

MCGRATH —  The final three Iditarod teams into the checkpoint here Thursday afternoon pulled in all together.

Lisbet Norris, Yuka Honda and Kailyn Davis had traveled that way for more than 50 miles.

They teamed up to weather a storm.

“The first half was like just blowing snow and the wind, you couldn’t really see anything,” said Davis. 

The trail and the non-trail looked exactly the same, she said. The only way to tell the difference: When they stepped off the trail, they sank into hip-deep snow.

So, they took turns navigating.

“Once we found the trail, then we had to break the trail,” said Davis. “It was really slow. It was a slog.”

After about nine hours and traveling just 35 miles, they decided to stop to camp, until they were ready to make the final push to McGrath.

Davis said the three teams hadn’t raced together before. But she’s happy they did. They became fast friends. 

“It was good,” she said. “You know, three full teams of sled dogs, and you’re in stressful conditions and passing each other and being passed. And none of the dogs are grumpy, and they’re all still pretty happy and really friendly with each other. So it was great.”

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The mushers parked their dogs close to each other in McGrath.

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As far as any lessons learned on the trail in?

“Don’t run the iditarod again!” said Davis. 

They all laughed. 

“It was a really good idea to caravan,” she said. “I’m glad we left together.”

The three mushers then settled in to rest in McGrath — about a third of the race behind them.

Honda started to heat up an ointment for a dog that had diarrhea. And Davis got ready to help apply it.

“I don’t know which job is worse — mine or yours,” said Davis, laughing. “Sorry, doggy!”

a portrait of a dog
A sled dog on Yuka Honda’s team in McGrath. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)
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