YK-Delta mushers take their 24-hour layovers

by Ben Matheson on March 5, 2014

The field is spread out in Iditarod 42. Mike Williams Junior has finished his 24 hour layover in Nikolai. He left at 1018. Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl are doing their 24 further up the trail in Takotna after arriving between 2 and 4 this morning. Williams told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen in Nikolai that his team fared well through the burn into his 24, even though he’s down to 10 dogs.

“I’m kinda surprised there’s no hurt dogs, but then again, they’re running mostly on bare ground and dirt, there’s lots of traction and that’s what they run best on,” said Williams

He naturally said that he’s looking forward to getting back onto snow. The teams of Kaiser and Diehl, fared well, and their equipment, despite a bruising run that was traumatic for many. 12 mushers have scratched or been withdrawn. Kaiser said words could not do it justice.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that in my life and hope to never agin, I’m glad it’s over. I don’ t what else to say about it right now other than I’m in disbelief about how bad it was,” said Kaiser.

And Richie Diehl:

“Kinda like a sci fi movie or something, headlights flashing all over the place, people screaming, people bombing down hills, it was an interesting night, coming up to people with broken brakes, coolers busted everyone on the trail,” said Diehl.

That trail’s behind them now as they jumped onto the flat Kuskokwim river through McGrath and worked their way to Takotna. That’s where Kaiser and Richie are resting this morning. Richie was 15th into the checkpoint at 2:31, and Kaiser, 19th at 3:31 at this early stage. The race leaders will be leapfrogging for the next couple days as they take their 24 rests in different checkpoints. Kaiser says his schedule is coming together.

“I set this schedule up to be a little further behind, give these young dogs some more rest, but they’re doing well, if they keep doing well we can try to move up a bit, but so far I’m really happy with them,” said Kaiser.

Diehl says he’s happy with his team in his second Iditarod. He says they have a good attitude and have contracted no bugs.

“I definitely will pick it up a little this year, and because the dogs are doing good now, it’s early, but the dogs definitely have the potential to do well and it comes down to me doing the right thing,” said Diehl.

At the front of the race five teams have advanced through Ophir as of Wednesday morning. First out was Sonny Lidner at 3 a.m., followed by Aaron Burmeister, Paul Gebhardt, Jeff king and John Baker. Aily Zirkle and Mitch and Dallas Seavey are resting in Takotna, while Martin Buser is through Takotna with his 24 hour layover complete.

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