The Top Ten

It’s been a chilly day here in Nome and it has been snowing all day…. just flurries, but snow none the less!

The top ten mushers are in as of now!  What an amazing accomplishment for these mushers and their dogs!

The first three mushers broke John Baker’s fastest winning time!  Can you believe that?  Three mushers breaking the fastest time record!  The trail may have been super nasty, but it was also fast.  The mushers didn’t have to break trail or wallow in deep snow and their times reflect that.  Or, as many people are joking… they couldn’t use their brakes on the ice and dirt, so they never slowed down.

Sonny Lindner age 64, finished the race this morning in fifth place.  Lance Mackey, four- time Iditarod champion,  greeted him in the chute.  Apparently, several of the dogs that Sonny was running this year previously belonged to to Lance.  Lance greeted the leaders at the end of the chute and you could just see the adoration in his eyes.

Martin Buser arrived in sixth place and was greeted by his wife and his son, Rohn (yes, he is named after an Iditarod checkpoint).  I learned that Martin and his wife Kathy were actually married right under the Burled Arch!  He is also the musher with the most consecutive finishes, 29 including this one!  He banged up his ankle pretty badly before getting into Nikolai and his hurt his finger in training run several weeks ago.  Both seem to be bothering him a bit as he came in.  I’m sure that after a hot shower and a long rest he will feel much better.

Jessie Royer, Ray Redington, Jr., and Hans Gatt finished within thirty-five minutes of each other.  Jessie works with horses as well as huskies.  Ray Redington, Jr. is the grandson of Iditarod Race founder Joe Redington, Sr. His father, Raymie Redington,is also an Iditarod finisher.  The entire Redington clan is just amazingly warm and kind people.  They support the Iditarod and the Junior Iditarod in so many ways.  Hans Gatt is originally from Austria but now lives in Canada.  He also is a sled builder. I’ve seen many mushers in this year’s Iditarod driving Gatt sleds.

Here’s a video of Ray Redington, Jr. coming into the finish chute.  Notice how he is paddling with his left foot.  Mushers often do this to help their dogs power the sled along.  They sometimes also use ski poles to achieve the same outcome.

Aaron Burmeister was the tenth musher in.  Aaron hurt his knee pretty badly in that first stretch of bad trail.  It’s impressive he’s been able to finish out this year’s race. I bet he was glad to see the lights of Nome!

When a musher is coming in, the siren sounds to announce their arrival.  Once the siren sounds, there is about twenty minutes until the musher actually shows up on Front Street.  The siren also goes off everyday at noon, but I’m not entirely sure why.  I was wondering what would happen if there was a fire.  Would people just assume the siren was announcing another musher?  But I’m told that he fire siren sounds different – it has a different pattern of sounds.  As the musher reaches Front Street, the announcer gives a biography of the musher.  The chute is filled with people to greet the musher and the dogs – usually the musher’s family and handlers, the press, race officials, and the checker.  The musher usually greets his family and gives some thanks and loving to the dogs.  The handlers or the musher give the dogs some snacks in the chute. Lots of photos are taken.  Before the musher can be officially welcomed in, the sled bag needs to be checked for the mandatory gear – ax, snowshoes, cooker, booties, sleeping bag, etc.  The musher turns in their trail mail.  And then, and only then, is the musher officially welcomed to Nome and given his or or official finishing time.

The 2014 Top Ten are resting soundly tonight. The mushers are being cared for by their families and friends. The dogs are nestled into crates at the Dog Yard and being cared for by a team of veterinarians and other volunteers.

Here’s a glimpse into the dog yard today: