Mike Williams Jr. finishes 23rd in tough Iditarod

by Angela Denning-Barnes on March 14, 2013

Michael Williams Jr. at finish line in Nome, March 13. Photo by John Wallace

Michael Williams Jr. at finish line in Nome, March 13. Photo by John Wallace

Michael Williams Jr. of Akiak crossed the finish line at 4:57 p.m. Wednesday in the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. He was met under the burled arch by his mother and his girlfriend and said he was tired but happy to be done with the race. Before it all started, the 27-year-old was worried that he didn’t have enough training miles to be competitive.

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The high water near Akiak through out the fall and then the icy November created limited training opportunities, so his Iditarod strategy was to hold back and play it conservatively.

He said he did notice the lack of miles on the trail.

“I saw it going down the Yukon, especially from Eagle Island to Kaltag,” Williams Jr said. “And their being sick probably had something to do with that too.”

Sickness and warm weather were two unforeseen challenges this year.

“It was warm, I wasn’t really expecting it to be warm all the way,” Williams Jr. said. “And I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle it. My dogs were getting sick. Maybe I was feeding to much and too rich early.”

But Williams’ dogs improved as the trail went on and looked much better by the end of the race. He finished with 9 dogs in harness, all of them happy. He earned $7,500 dollars for the finish.

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It was Williams’ fourth Iditarod and the first time that he ran it with this father, veteran racer Mike Williams Sr.

“It was good to see him out there, [we were at the] first few points together, and he was up before me,” said Williams Jr. “And I’d take a nap and I’d tell him, ‘I’ll be up in an hour’ and he’d get me up in a half hour or something and would say, ‘we gotta go’ (laughs). But yeah, good to see him out there.”

Last year, Williams Jr. took 8th place in the Iditarod, in 2011 he finished 13th and in 2010, his rookie year, he took 26th place. This was his fourth time racing the 1,00 mile race across Alaska and he says it won’t be his last. He does see himself hitting the race trail again.

“Hopefully things go better next year with their training and their health,” he said.

Williams was one of the last mushers into Nome before a wind storm kicked up creating winds of up to 40 miles per hour and ground blizzards.

Pete Kaiser of Bethel finished 13th place on Tuesday.
Richie Diehl of Aniak finished in 36th place Thursday.
Mike Williams Sr. of Akiak is in 45th place. He is heading to White Mountain where he will have to take his 8 hour mandatory break. He could finish the race Friday.

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