“You know any dog that could finish that could finish this race…and these dogs did it,” said Williams.
He spoke with his dad on the phone and hugged his sister at the finish line. Junior had his second-best finish in five Iditarods. That’s after training with a 4-wheeler all winter.
“We hardly got any miles the whole month of February, hardly able to go out on a sled until about a week before the Iditarod. The dogs did a lot better than I expected them to,” said Williams.
Next in was Ken Anderson, followed by Pete Kaiser in 13th at 6:28 a.m. with 13 dogs.
“It’s a fun group, they’re fast and athletic, they’re only going to get better,” said Kaiser. “It was really fun driving them at a little laid back pace but to watch them come on strong the last 3-400 miles and post fast times… it’s a fun way to run the race, that’s for sure,” said Kaiser.
Kaiser and the team made it through the Alaska Range and extremely bare Farewell Burn unscathed.
“It did get rough again from Unalakleet on, some spots better than others. But it was pretty rough too. I think a lot of the coast got overshadowed by the concern for the Alaska Range. Some of us knew it was going to be pretty rough up there, there was some rough stuff with the wind blowning, so definitely a tough year,” said Kaiser.
Kaiser’s fifth finish marks four times in the top 20. His best was a fifth place finish in 2012.
Aniak’s Richie Diehl made it into Nome at 7:35 a.m. with 10 dogs in 14th place. He moves up from his rookie run last year in which he placed 36th. He said at the finish line this morning that his team impressed him throughout the race.
“I’m proud of all of them, they all did excellent. There’s four or five on the team I’ve bought that have been the core of my team. And finally I got to run some pups,…rather, some 3-year-olds and a yearling. It’s cool to see all five of those dogs that I bred at the finish line with me,” said Diehl.
21 teams have now made it into Nome. Minnesota’s Nathan Schroeder beat out Yukon Quest veteran Abbie West for the top rookie spot.