Michael Williams Jr. plans to hold back in Iditarod

by Angela Denning-Barnes on March 6, 2013

Michael Williams Jr. watches the stage at the musher's drawing Feb. 28. Photo by John Wallace, courtesy of kaiserracing.com

Michael Williams Jr. watches the stage at the musher’s drawing. Photo by John Wallace, courtesy of kaiserracing.com

Michael Williams Jr. or “Qam” is running his fourth Iditarod and the 27-year-old from Akiak has improved each race. In 2010, his rookie year, he took 26th place; in 2011 he finished in 13th place; and last year he finished 8th. So far, in this year’s race, he hasn’t been in the top 20. But perhaps he’s just holding back, like he planned to do.
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“The last couple of years I was going pretty hard from the start, but this year I might have to be a little more conservative,” Williams Jr. said.

Williams Jr. says this is the best Iditarod team he’s had, but they don’t have the miles that he’s had in the past. He had a few set backs in fall training. The major one was unfavorable weather, including ice that lasted through November.

“That’s a big part of it,” Williams Jr. said. “I wanted to train and keep the dogs going all fall but we’ve just had crap weather, and the water was crazy high, you know it was like during break up. The water was right near the bank. We’ve been having a lot of erosion. The road that I take of from the summer dog yard got eroded away. So, now we got to take a different trail.

And in November, Williams Jr. got sick for three weeks, which also kept him from long training runs.

“With the lower miles, I think I’m going to have to be a little more conservative at the beginning,” Williams Jr. said.

Most of Williams Jr.’s dogs have run the Iditarod before even though most of them are young. Several are 2, 3 and 4 year olds. But he has experienced leaders he can count on. Emmo is his main leader. He’s 8 and has led the last two Iditarods.

Williams Jr.’s style of mushing adapts to the trail. He expects for his plan to change, depending on how his team looks.

“I know I have to be patient and depending on how the dogs are looking. . .these are veterans and you know,” Williams Jr. said. “It’s not their first time going out doing this. They might be low on miles this year but they’ve gone through it before so I think even with these low miles, I might be able to end up racing.”

Hopefully, by holding back a little in the beginning, Williams Jr. will have a competitive race. He says his goal is to finish as high has he can. But his sights are set on the front of the pack.

“It’d be nice to get top ten again,” Williams Jr. said, “(or) top five.”

Keeping him company on the race trail is his father, Mike Williams Sr. It’s his 15th Iditarod.

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