Jeff King is the first musher into the final layover in White Mountain in this year’s Iditarod. He checked in at 7:02. Behind him was Aily Zirkle at 7:59. They are on track to break John Baker’s speed record from 3 years ago.
Pete Kaiser is into Koyuk, at 8:13, racing in the 16th position. Richie Diehl was in 13 minutes later at 8:26 with 12 dogs in 17th. Mike Williams Junior left Shaktoolik at 2:41 with 8 dogs in harness. He and the rest of the YK Delta contingent is racing in a pack of 7 mushers that left Shaktoolik within a 2 hour span this morning.
Kaiser has moved up in the standings over the last couple days. Kaiser told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen that his plan for the coast is to take his young team on the best run they can:
“We’ll just keep going as fast as we can safely go , whatever we get we get, I don’t want to fall back anymore. As far as catching teams in front of use I’m don’t have my sights set on anybody. Just want to get get to Nome as fast as we safely can. Whoever we pass we pass, whoever passes us, passes us,” said Kaiser.
With the leader of the race as much as 9 hours ahead of the race’s speed record, Kaiser says he’s not surprised at the pace.
When you get a trail like this, the dogs don’t have to put out nearly the effort to maintain the speed you want to go, even a tired team can maintain 8 or 9 mph on a good hard trail like this. And weather too, we haven’t had any weather that would really slow anybody down. You get all those factors: good dog teams, perfect trail, and good weather, you have records being broken again,” said Kaiser.