When the Iditarod starts this weekend, the Y-K Delta will have three mushers in the last great race: Pete Kaiser, Mike Williams Junior, and Richie Diehl. KYUK will highlight all three mushers as the race kicks off. Today’s profile is on Akiak’s Mike Williams Junior.
While Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl packed up and trained in Nenana this winter, Mike Williams Junior stayed home and ran dogs in front of his 4-wheeler.
“It was kinda tough naturally with the conditions we had with no snow and everything was really slick, so I took it easy. I had 16 solid dogs and I didn’t want to hurt anybody,” said Williams.
Junior drove a sled for the first time in several weeks when he ran the team to Bethel to fly to the race start. Williams says most of his team has finished before, about 12. He’s adding a yearling and some other young dogs.
This will be the 5th Iditarod for Junior. Williams has finished as high as 8th place, back in 2012. Williams says he will take a break from Iditarod after this year. One big change this is the presence of twin boys at home.
“You know I think of them a lot and how much time it takes to train and get ready for Iditarod. It keeps running through my mind that I’m not going to do this next year and I want to do the best I can now before I take a break from Iditarod. Withdrawing has never crossed my mind. I ain’t going to quit because there’s a little bit of glare ice over there,” said Williams.
The race trail is reported to be improved over the last couple days. There were reports of glare ice and low coverage. Williams is predicting a few broken sleds, but he says it can’t be worse than back home
“The main thing of course is to finish and to finish with as good of team as I can get to the finish and as strong of dog team I can get to finish line, said Williams.
Williams says again that family motivates him to race.
“If it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t be signed up for the race. My wife and my babies inspire me to do the best that I could,” said Williams.
Stay tuned to KYUK for a preview of Richie Diehl’s race.