Mushing home from Nome: The Reitans embark on 1,400-mile journey to Alaska's North Slope
While most who competed in the 2019 Iditarod are resting up from the 1,000-mile trip, 21-year-old Martin Apayauq Reitan is preparing to embark on another long mushing journey.
Martin finished the Iditarod in 28th place Friday with 12 dogs in harness. Now, he and his father, seven-time Iditarod finisher Ketil Reitan, are preparing to mush their way home from Nome — all the way back to the northern Alaska town of Kaktovik.
Nearly 700 air miles separate Nome and Kaktovik, but Ketil estimates that he and Martin will travel nearly twice that, about 1,400 miles total. This is the fourth year that the father and son have mushed their way home.
"This is something we like to do and it sounds very difficult but it's also easy in many ways," Ketil said. "We don't have to ever have our dogs sit in a plane. We have been running Iditarod now four years in a row without ever having our dog team in a plane."
Back in November, the Reitans mushed their dogs on the sea ice from Kaktovik to Prudhoe Bay, then drove them by truck to Southcentral Alaska for the start of the Iditarod, stopping to compete in several mid-distance races along the way.
"It's good for the dogs," Marin said. "They get to see a lot of different country and, well, there's a lot of country on the coast but that's also something that's good for them to practice."
On their way home, Ketil will mush the dog team as Martin paves the way by snowmachine.
The pair is planning to make a pit stop along the way for another sled dog race. Ketil is slated to compete in the Kobuk 440, which starts in Kotzebue on April 4.
"This has worked out great for us and it's so great to visit in all the villages and people are happy to see us. It's not many people that travel by dog team like we do anymore," Ketil said.
Weather permitting, the two say they plan to get on their way sometime Thursday, stopping first in Teller before heading to Shishmaref.
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