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Archive: March 11, 2014

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Iditarod day 10 - Zirkle passes King into Safety first!

Tuesday,  03/11/14  12:28 AM

Aliy Zirkle's team on their way to Safety checkpointWow!  Just when everyone thought Jeff King was headed to another Iditarod win, he's run into some kind of trouble outside the Safety checkpoint - word is there are high winds over the glare ice, making visibility difficult - and has been passed by Aliy Zirkle!

That's Aliy and team on the right...

The GPS tracker seems to show that both Aliy and Jeff have stopped, perhaps seeking shelter in the wind.  Dallas Seavey is in third and still moving, catching up fast.  This thing is not over yet...


whiteout conditions outside Safety checkpointHere's a picture Sebastian Schnulle posted of his snowmachine in the whiteout conditions outside Safety.  Perhaps Jeff King lost the trail?

They three leaders are 11 miles apart with about 20 miles 'till the finish, and anything could happen...  stay tuned!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)



Iditarod day 10 - King scratches (!), Aliy holed up, Seaveys closing in

Tuesday,  03/11/14  01:48 AM

Aerial view of Jeff King leading Aliy Zirkle out of White MountainSad news; erstwhile race winner Jeff King has scratched from the 2014 Iditarod.  Apparently his team was blown off the trail into some driftwood, and while he was able to gather the team together they holed up in the drift for 2 1/2 hours, and he finally decided to get help from a snowmachine to take him to Safety - the checkpoint which is only a few miles in front of him.  Shows you how strong the winds are and how crappy the conditions have become.

The cool shot at right shows Jeff King's team just ahead of Aliy Zirkle's, as they left White Mountain...

Cape Nome in the howling windMeanwhile Aliy Zirkle is now the leader, holed up in the Safety checkpoint and waiting out the wind.  Dallas Seavey is now second, just two miles from Safety, and his father Mitch is third another 14 miles back.  It will be interesting to see what Zirkle does when Seavey gets to the checkpoint, and whether Seavey will stop or continue on.  The conditions ahead into Nome are reportedly terrible with strong winds, glare ice, and a poorly marked trail.  No less authority than Joe Runyon, an ex-champion and now blogger, says the race should shut down for safety reasons.

The pic at left is Cape Nome in the howling winds.

It's going to be an interesting finish ... wow.  Maybe everyone stays holed up in Safety for a while, and then there's a mass sprint finish.  Please stay tuned!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 10 - Seavey in and out of Safety, Zirkle gives chase

Tuesday,  03/11/14  02:41 AM

Dallas Seavey and team on their way into SafetySo Dallas Seavey reached Safety (the checkpoint), checked in, and left again three minutes later, leaving Aliy Zirkle there waiting for the wind to abate.  Could he win again (he won in 2012) with Zirkle second?  Will his father Mitch reach safety in time to catch Zirkle too?  (Right now it looks like Mitch is resting his team along the trail.)  And the big question, can Dallas reach Nome in these conditions?  Stay tuned...

Oh wait a minute.  Just as I was clicking Post, it looks like Aliy is now on the move also, about two miles behind.  Excellent.  Let's see how it all ends!

Update 3:05: Aliy has 10 dogs left, moving at 7.9mph, Dallas mushing with just 7 at 7.4mph.  About two miles apart with about 18 miles to go...

Update 3:18: Still neck and neck. I don't understand why Aliy didn't leave directly after Dallas, if she was not going to wait.  She's moving faster but only a little, and the gap is essentially the time she waited before following...

Windstorm at Cape NomeUpdate 3:33: Zirkle definitely closing in.  Could be that she has three more dogs, could be that she's reaping the benefits of that 2 1/2 hour rest in Safety (Seavey was there for three minutes).  Or maybe her leader wants it more :)  Here's a great shot of the wind blowing over Cape Nome.  You can just hear it, right?

Update 4:06: Watching GPS tracker in realtime and reading everyone's Tweets.  Some say Zirkle has passed Seavey but I haven't seen that, they're still about a mile apart, and now about 10 miles from finish.

Update 4:14: Good info from Joe Runyon with more detail about what happened in the dark.  Sounds like Jeff King had a bad accident, and Aliy passed him without knowing.  Also interesting that there is a point where leading musher no longer has to let trailing musher pass.  This could be neck-and-neck down Front Street.  First nose across the line wins!

The teams of Dallas Seavey and Aliy Zirkle battle down the Nome stretchUpdate 4:25: Closer and closer but Seavey still leads as they battle down the Nome stretch.  I don't think Zirkle is going to do it, but still much too close to call.  This could come down to a sprint.

Update 4:28: Just found the Nome web cam, pointed down the finishing straight.  There's no place like Nome.  Awesome!

Update 4:36: Carumba the GPS trackers are no longer updating.  Last telemetry now 20min ago :(

Update 4:43: Still no new news, anything could be happening, and probably is.  Can't believe they didn't design the GPS tracker for scale but then again this is a more exciting finish than usual.

Update 4:46: Yay finally new data.  Looks like about the same gap, but now just a few miles to go.

Update 4:58: 1/3 mile apart with 1 1/3 miles to go.  Going to be close but I don't think Zirkle can catch Seavey.  Do sled dog teams have a sprint?

Nome Cam: Dallas Seavey's team wins the 2013 IditarodUpdate 5:04: And Dallas Seavey wins!  Whew.  Aliy Zirkle is going to be about three minutes behind.  What a great race.  Looks like Mitch Seavey is back in Safety with a comfortable lead for third.

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod day 10 - Dallas Seavey wins!, Aliy Zirkle a close second

Tuesday,  03/11/14  05:15 AM

Dallas Seavey with his lead dog Beatle, 2014 Iditarod championsAnd so the 2014 Iditarod is history.  Dallas Seavey held off Aliy Zirkle by about two minutes to win his second Iditarod; this is the third year in a row Zirkle finishes second.  And Dallas' father Mitch is back in Safety, but looks to be a solid third. 

At right: Dallas with his lead dog Beatle, the top dog of this year's Iditarod.

The final 20 miles were pretty exciting, with Zirkle pulling to within about 1/3 mile but never quite catching Seavey.  Both mushers obliterated the previous time record set by John Baker in 2011 by nearly five hours, despite the frozen windstorm on the way to the finish.  This year's race featured little snow, hard rough conditions, and lots of interesting strategy.

Jeff King and team thrash their way through Dalzell GorgeWe have to feel bad for Jeff King, right?  Just a few hours ago he was poised to win, but then his team was blown off the trail into driftwood and he couldn't recover and had to scratch.  Check out this video of Jeff going through Dalzell Gorge.  Wow!

Please do click though to watch this video, you won't believe it.

And we have to feel bad for DeeDee Jonrowe, who had to scratch early in the race after serious trouble negotiating that same gorge, and the Farewell Burn which follows it.  In fact, there were a record number of teams who scratched this year ... given the ever increasing level of preparation, that more than anything shows how tough the conditions were all week.

mushing into the sunsetHere's my favorite picture of this year's race, "mushing into the sunset".  Every year I resolve to actually visit Alaska and see the race in person.  Maybe next year...

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


Iditarod wrap

Tuesday,  03/11/14  10:00 PM

Dallas Seavey and team finish the 2014 Iditarod in first, thinking they were finishing thirdDid you enjoy the 2014 Iditarod?  What a great race, right?  Who would have thought that after nine days of racing it would come down to the final minutes, with the leader dropping out, and the third place team passing second place with 22 miles to go, and a sprint down Front Street in Nome.

Well guess what the true story is now coming out, and it's even weirder than we thought.  Check this out.  When Jeff King was blown off the trail just before reaching Safety (!), he had a comfortable lead of about an hour.  When Aliy Zirkle passed him an hour later she had no idea she was doing so.  Pulling into Safety, with a high wind blowing, she decided to rest her team and wait out the weather, conceding first to King.  When Dallas Seavey came along another hour later, he had no idea he was passing King on the trail.  And when he pulled into Safety, he had no idea Zirkle was already there.  His one thought was to stay ahead of his father, who was running fourth, so he went in and out of Safety in minutes.  Zirkle suddenly realized she was losing second to Seavey, and took off after him, fifteen minutes later.  Seavey thought he was racing for third, ahead of his father, and Zirkle thought she was chasing second.  Neither knew King had scratched.  It wasn't until Seavey finished that he found out he had won!  And it wasn't until Zirkle finished that she found out she had been racing for first, not second.  Wow.

Above, right: Seavey and team finishing first in Nome.  They thought they were finishing third.

Well that's it, a wrap for the 2014 Iditarod.  We now return you to our normally scheduled blogging.  Hope you have enjoyed the race and see you all next year!

(All Iditarod 2014 posts)


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