The Daily 5: Racing to the Yukon, record snow in Nome & a new perspective
Here are five things to know for Friday on Day 6 of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race:
1. Race Outlook:
Front-runners Nicolas Petit and Joar Leifseth Ulsom leapfrogged Thursday and into Friday morning, adding suspense to a race that has been rocky for veterans and rookies alike.
Now that the two have both taken their 24-hour rests — Petit in Ophir, Ulsom in Takotna — they opened it up, both reaching speeds over 10 mph on the leg to Shageluk.
Ulsom beat Petit to the checkpoint at 12:14 a.m. Friday. Ulsom had 11 dogs in the harness when he arrived. Less than 5 miles behind, Petit spent just three minutes in the checkpoint, leaving at 12:53 a.m. with 14 dogs and eyes on a warm welcome and feast as the prize for being first to Anvik.
He arrived at 4:23 a.m. with 14 dogs. The bigger question was whether Petit would stay to eat the meal or if he would pass through the checkpoint to keep his lead over Ulsom. He decided to stay, but the chefs said he asked that the dinner happen "as fast as possible."
Nearly 80 percent of the 51 mushers still in the race have completed their 24-hour rest as of 2 a.m. Friday. Now, well-rested the teams will face the second 500 miles of the Iditarod.
2. Iditarod Forecast:
Active weather continues for the second half of the Iditarod Trail with winter weather advisories in effect. As mushers made their way south to Iditarod and west to Shageluk late Thursday, they did so under cloudy skies with light snow and poor visibility.
Temperatures will fall below zero for most of the region overnight, but will climb to the mid-30s Friday afternoon. This means as additional precipitation moves in, it will likely fall as a snow-rain mix during the heat of the day for this portion of the trail.
Poor visibility will also continue as wind gusts of 15-20 mph are likely, especially near Iditarod.
Looking further west and north, snow continues to fall. Nome picked up another 8 inches of snow this month, bringing the season total to 94.3 inches. The snow depth in Nome was measured at 56 inches Thursday, which is the fifth-highest on record and more is on the way Friday.
READ MORE: Winter Weather Advisories Next 400 Miles
3. Feast & furious
As leaders in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race barreled toward the Yukon River, there was an extravagant multi-course meal waiting for the first musher to arrive with their team in Anvik.
The menu includes bison chili; a beet, caramelized macadamia and goat cheese salad; a jumbo scallop with blueberry compote; a seared and flambeed beef tenderloin with whiskery sauce paired with jumbo shrimp with champagne sauce, wild mushroom risotto cake and sautéed broccolini; and a wild berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
It seems like a wonderful dinner, but it might end up being a breakfast occasion. A GPS tracker on Iditarod.com shows a leader could arrive in the early morning hours on Friday.
4. Iditarod photographer adjusts his focus
Jeff Schultz seemingly has taken every picture there is to take on the Iditarod Trail. After 38 years, he needed something else.
"Last year, I was out here and I was going 'I can't do this again.' I'm burnt," he said. "I'm in an Idita-rut as I call it."
He's compiling mini-biographies on everyone. After all, everyone has a story. Schultz wants to tell it as he works on his newest project: Faces of the Iditarod.
5. Dog of the Day
Gator is a 6-year-old sled dog running with Richie Diehl. Gator and his siblings are the oldest dogs on Diehl’s team this year.
“Gator has always been probably the hardest working dog in my team,” said Diehl. “He’s just a phenomenal dog.”
Gator is not a lead dog, but he pulls his weight running in the middle of the pack.
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COMPREHENSIVE RACE COVERAGE: