The Daily 5: Petit scratches, a 3-way battle for first & how to send a 'mushergram'
Here are five things to know for Tuesday on Day 10 of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race:
1. Race Outlook: With Petit out, top 3 battle for first
As front-runners Peter Kaiser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Jessie Royer enter the homestretch of the 2019 Iditarod, it's still anybody's race.
Three veteran mushers are all dueling for one championship as they sprint toward the burled arch in Nome. Strategy and decision making will still be key, because one wrong move will not only put a team at a disadvantage, but give the upper hand to the competition.
The teams have left Elim and are headed for White Mountain, knowing that a mandatory eight-hour rest awaits them. From White Mountain, it's on to safety, and them another 22 miles into Nome.
There is a myriad of ways that teams can decide to play it, combining resting and sprinting. But if it's close at the end, mushers want to have some reserve in the tank to make the last full on push to the finish line.
What makes this race so great is exactly what we are seeing: Unpredictability, and flips of the script in the final days of the Iditarod, and there may be more to come before a winner is determined.
READ MORE: Iditarod 47 - Live Race Blog
2. Nic Petit scratches after dogs stop running
Veteran musher Petit, who was in the lead for much of the 2019 Iditarod, scratched at the Shaktoolik checkpoint at 7 p.m. Monday.
Petit scratched in the best interest of his race team’s mental well-being, according to a release from the Iditarod Trail Committee. He and his race team were brought back to Shaktoolik by snowmachine and trail sled for transport through Unalakleet and then on to Anchorage. Petit had 10 dogs with him at the time he decided to scratch.
Petit was the first musher to leave Shaktoolik, but GPS tracking showed he stayed in the same area around mile 793 — resting off and on — from 10 p.m. Sunday to 5 p.m. Monday.
In an interview with Iditarod Insider, Petit said the dogs took off out of Shaktoolik "like a rocket" and then lost speed. He surmised that it was likely because they went to a cabin in the area last year. He said one dog jumped on another — the dog had been "picking on" the other during the race — and the whole team stopped after hearing Petit yelling at the two.
Petit waited for his dogs to move again, but appeared to begin moving back toward Shaktoolik at 5 p.m.
3. Iditarod Forecast: Freezing rain, snow awaits on the coast
As the lead teams head north and west, freezing rain is no longer a concern as temperatures are dropping but snow and wind will continue to impact the trail.
Elim to Golovin is a 28-mile stretch that is considered to be one of the more interesting stretches of the Iditarod. This stretch also includes the most difficult mountain climb of the second half of the trail. The 1,000-foot summit is exposed to the elements and the descent can be about as challenging as the climb.
Temperatures Tuesday will hold in the low 20s after starting out in the teens. This is perfect for dogs running up the steep slope, but wind will once again become a factor. Northerly winds around 15 mph will decrease visibility. Even more snow and wind awaits the mushers and their dogs as they head toward Nome.
4. ‘Mushergrams,’ special pizza deliveries await mushers in Unalakleet
Communication has come a long way since the telegram, but on the Iditarod Trail, texting and social media are not usually available to mushers headed to Nome. If you want to send a message to a musher mid-race, you send a “mushergram.”
Mushergrams come to checkpoints by way of a volunteer-run phone room in Anchorage. Fans, friends and family can call in and relay a message to a volunteer. The Iditarod Trail Committee then does its best to get the message to a checkpoint ahead of the mushers.
Hundreds of mushergrams awaited mushers in Unalakleet, and some passing through even got a special pizza delivery from fans.
5. Dog of the Day
Ozzy is a four-year-old lead dog running his fourth Iditarod with musher Wade Marrs.
Marrs, who pulled into Unalakleet with a broken sled Monday, has been having a tough race. However, he, Ozzy and the team continue to push toward Nome.
Ozzy is named after Ozzy Osbourne, and is part of Marrs' "music litter."
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