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Husky Homestead

A Denali Destination

Where Dogs are King

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Donna: Re-Cap of Day 7; Outlook for Day 8

Well, if you checked your TRACKER this morning you will see that Jeff has passed Lance on the trail from Kaltag to Unalakleet. Jeff’s run time into Kaltag was 45 minutes faster than Lance’s and had him into Kaltag just 50 minutes behind Lance. I was surprised that Lance stopped in Nulato, showing Jeff his hand, especially after stopping on the Yukon in route. That may have been a grave tactical error. He gave Jeff the opportunity to watch how long he rested in the checkpoint. That made it easier for Jeff to figure out exactly how much he should rest there. Don’t get me wrong, Jeff still has to run the race for his dogs, but leaving a half an hour earlier than he would have, awards him some time and has little affect on the team overall. “Picking up pennies” is what Joe Runyan called it. Pretty soon you have the whole dollar.

So, it is not surprising that Lance went through Kaltag. It will keep Jeff guessing about what he is doing and may hurry Jeff along a bit. It also makes it impossible for Lance to know what exactly Jeff is doing until/and if Jeff connects with him down the trail. Obviously, at this point, Lance is trying to avoid a connection! Both teams appear very strong and healthy.

The trail along the Yukon has been soft and slow, not unusual for this section of the race when the temperatures are moderate. Jeff did call from Nulato yesterday just and hour before he pulled the hook. He said that the dogs were bored with the slow trail and with “nothing to look at” on the long, wide river. He is still thrilled with their appetites and was worried he had overfed Adidas on the
trail going into Nulato. She ran sluggish after a meal but perked up as they rested in the checkpoint. He sounded very focused and alert and called, I believe, to distract himself from leaving. “I got up to get ready to leave, but I’m an hour early.” he said. He was sitting on his hands, so to speak, as he waited to leave.

I believe that Unalakleet got an inch or two of fresh snow, which will slow the trail a bit. The temperatures are forecasted to drop a bit (10 degrees at night in UNK) which will be a great gift to the dogs and mushers. Overall, the trail has been good on average and would certainly not be anywhere close to a bad-trail-year.

At this point, Jeff and the team are just over 3 hours behind his pace from 2006. He took 12 hours from Kaltag to Unalakleet that year. That would indicate a 2 hour rest on the trail at Old Woman Cabin. It is not unusual for teams to make this reported 90 mile run straight through in as little as 9 hours. Either way, we will likely not see a team into this first coastal village before noon today. As the teams arrive in Unalakleet we will get a very clear picture of how this race may play out. Once the frontrunners leave this checkpoint, it is just over 2 days to the finish line.

A correction from my report yesterday…. I believe it had to have been in 1996 when Jeff did the Yukon run in two segments. In 1993 they ran the southern route.


  1. Donna, Although I have known of the race for many years, this year I am following the race closely online and via all the blogs etc. from Puyallup, WA. To quote anothers words “I have been kidnapped by the race”. My laundry is piling up and haven’t accomplished a darn thing at work for the past week. I am definitely coming to Alaska for the race next year – just will have to decide if for the beginning, the middle or the finish. Maybe I’ll sign up to volunteer even. Anyway, the reason for my comment is – keep the news flowing, you are a fabulous writer! I’ll be ordering Jeff’s book in the next day or so. Go Jeff Go!!! I’m rooting for YOU to be #1. Lisa

  2. Lisa,
    I hope you read this!

    Go for it, get up to Alaska and see the race. I traveled to Alaska this year as a finalist for Teacher on the Trail 2009. Thanks in large part to the encouragement of Jeff & Donna King. They are top notch people who have encouraged anyone with the incling to be involved with this remarkable event. Lisa Fredric, author of Running With Champions, is a prime example. The books (audio and written) are incredible and the coverage via the blog, and tracker are phenominal. Go for it! You won’t regret it. (I am experiencing the same laundry problem and unfortunately work problem. Grades are due for report cards tomorrow!) YIKES!!!

    Donna, I can’t say it enough, thanks for everything!!!!!

  3. Wow, what a relief, to know that other peoples houses are experiencing the same as our house. I was just remembering last year without the gps tracker. We are so lucky this year. I sure hope they keep it from now on. Go Jeff, #1. I will soon be ordering the book. I listened to the audio demo on the website, last night. What an adventure. I look forward to reading the book.

  4. Hi.

    Judi, we met at the Cabela’s Breakfast with Jeff. I was the one that had a husky homestead sweatshirt on. I thought you were a Cabela’s person…. 😉 We actually connected again at the Flying Machine at the hotel, and had a wonderful conversation with you… I think it was after noon before I left.. You were a great conversationalist. Thanks.

    Jeff is also responsible for MY coming up for the race last year. It really IS his fault. Once bitten by the dog race bug, “Resistance is Futile”. So it was a no brainer for me to come back this year.

    Lisa, by all means, come on up! It is a great time… oh, and while I am at it, Cabela’s has a great tour group that comes up for the pre-race activities… (hint, hint!) And one of the perks, is there is a drawing for a spot as an idita-rider for the Ceremonial Start. (I won it this year…. it was a blast!) Thank Lainey for me for pulling my ticket!

    Donna, love reading your commentary. Keep it up!

    GO JEFF!!!!!!!!!
    GO TEAM GO!!!!

  5. We continue to shake our pom poms for you from down here in Ohio! Gooooooooo, Jeff King and all of your awesome little sweetie!!

    Best wishes,
    the Thomas team

  6. Thanks, Donna, for addressing the weather on the coast. How about a machanical rabbit to keep those dogs from boredom?

    Lisa, not only go to the race BUT go mushing!!! I did it last year in Healy, AK (after a lesson and with a guide)and it was, well, on a scale of one to ten– a twenty-five!!!! I only had six dogs. I cannot imagine 16!!! Pat, I agree, it is worst than a bug bite when you get into following the race. I am worse now since I experienced the thrill of the ride!!!I will do it again! Lord willing…

    GO TEAM!!!!!

  7. Go Jeff! First into Unalakleet! Thank you, Donna, for the wonderful insights into the race. We are big fans from Maine who got hooked when we did the Husky Homestead tour in 2006. Just finished reading “Cold Hands, Warm Heart” and loved it. We have a Cabelas opening here in May and are hoping we’ll see Jeff and Donna here.

  8. Donna, I see Jeff is in the lead!!! Yippeeee! been following two iditarods since touring Husky Homestead in 2006 and can’t get enough!!! my goal is to attend one in the near future…been on edge down here in Naples FL since the beginning of the race….we are cheering for Jeff and his excellent team! all 16 still with him…go Jeff!!!! win another one!!!! can’t stay away from the computer…so addictive! thanx for your updates…look forward to them every day…..GO JEFF!

  9. Keep up the good work. It’s so exciting to check in during the day and see your progess. Now you are in first place.

    We are cheering you on from Maryland and now Texas, my grandson proudly wears your t-shirt down there. The other kids in his nursery school are quite impressed!

  10. Donna what an exciting race!!! I’ve been glued to the Insider watching the great progress of Jeff and team. The team looks wonderful and all 16 staying healthy and running strong! What a wonderful tribute to your Homestead (which I visited the summer before Jeff’s last win). I had ordered the audio book before Christmas and the paperback for several friends. I feel like I am on the trail with Jeff and the team based on hearing his voice recounting the experience of the Iditarod. Anyone who is thinking about getting the book, do it now! Looking forward to watching the news during the push up the coast and seeing the Husky Homestead team first in Nome! Go Jeff!! Go Solomon (my favorite) and the rest of the team!! Best wishes, Carol

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