The Daily 5: Sled swapping, karma on the trail, & a mild Iditarod forecast
Here are five things to know for Thursday on Day 5 of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race:
1. Race Outlook: Mushers expect teams to go slower, work harder
Aliy Zirkle led the way to the Iditarod checkpoint Wednesday, passing Joar Leifseth Ulsom during his long stay in Takotna and Nic Petit during his rest in Ophir.
Whether pushing on to the next checkpoint or taking a mandatory 24-hour rest, mushers have said they anticipate their teams will start to move slower and have to work harder during the next leg of the journey to Nome as temperatures climb.
Wednesday also saw the first scratch since the race started. Shaynee Traska scratched in Nikolai, with 10 dogs in harness.
2. Iditarod Forecast
Active weather hasn't been much of a factor for mushers on the Iditarod Trail and that trend will hold steady through Thursday, although temperatures continue to be above average. McGrath, which is traditionally one of the coldest parts of the trail, has seen overnight lows nearly 25 degrees above average the past few nights.
While the lack of active weather can be a welcoming sight for mushers along the trail, it's the mild temperatures that could lead to some problems on the trail. Whether it be through the melting of the snow or the dogs becoming too hot, mushers could soon see the impacts of the abnormally warm conditions.
3. Prepared for Snow: Jeff King plans to leave Takotna with a modified sled
During his 24-hour stay in Takotna, Jeff King swapped his runners out for 4.5-inch plastic. The move is in response to snow in the forecast, and how he's seen thinner runners working on the trail so far.
4. Iditarod Karma: Kindness on the trail saves 1 dog team, 2 races
In the Iditarod, no ride means no race. Luckily for Mats Pettersson, a friend was able to repay a favor at just the right time.
A day after Pettersson helped Linwood Fiedler find his dog team and arrive safely to Nikolai, he was in need of help himself. Pettersson had run into trouble — crashing in the Farewell Burn. After a rocky ride and holding everything together, Pettersson needed a new rig or he wouldn't make the 669 miles from Takotna to Nome.
In steps Fiedler. The Alaskan musher had his spare sled couriered from McGrath for the Swede. Now, after saving each other, both mushers will race another day.
5. Dog of the Day
Check is a 5-year-old Iditarod finisher, and the only blue-eyed boy on Travis Beals' team.
He came from a three-dog litter. His siblings are named Zeus and Athena.
Check enjoyed a good rub down and some rest Tuesday afternoon at the checkpoint in Nikolai.
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COMPREHENSIVE RACE COVERAGE: