Rohn Buser arrived in Tuluksak four minutes before Jeff King early Sunday morning. Buser was in at 12:16 with 11 dogs. King arrived at 12:20 with 13 dogs, one of them in his trailer. He plans to drop one in Tuluksak.
King had a 13 minute edge on Buser as he left Kalskag Saturday evening, but a lack of trail markers led him off course into a messy start with his team. King says he came down off the hill which had become a sheet of ice. He saw no markers and says his team got balled up.
“I got all tangled up and everything got coated with ice and I couldn’t get the dogs untangled because the snaps all froze, and their booties were slippery. After such a short rest, it didn’t take long for them to think they were going to stay there in a big knot,” said King.
Mushers reported ground storms and periods of no visibility. King was on the chase the entire trail into Tuluksak.
“I could tell I was close to Rohn from his tracks. I had hoped to catch him, but we have 50 miles to go,” said King.
Buser says he’s happy with his 6 hours of rest and thought he did his fastest Kalsak-Tuluksak run ever. He was looking at dropping one dog for the final 50 miles into Bethel.
“Jeff seems to have a pretty good closing kick, so I have to keep that in mind. I guess I’ll just see how my team looks and see how they hold up. I’m happy with them, I’m pleased with the pace they’re going. It is what it is. It’s a dog race,” said Buser.
Buser is eligible to leave at 4:16. King can leave at 4:20 for the 50 mile run to the finish line in Bethel.
Paul Gebhart arrived third at 1:29 with 13 dogs. Joar Ulsom came in six minutes later at 1:35 with 9 dogs. Cim Smyth was fifth into the checkpoint at 1:39 with 12 dogs, and Jake Berkowitz was 6th at 1:41 with a full string of 14.