Iditarod: Three Women in Top Ten before White Mountain. Andre Jute reports.

The famous 1000 mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race across Alaska is one of the few top sports in which women compete as equals. There is no separate entry list for women. They must compete with some of the hardest men, and definitely the toughest terrain, anywhere in the world. But in Alaska men are men, and women can win the Iditarod, and have won the Iditatod.
So only rookies are surprised to see three women in the Iditarod top ten before White Mountain, where all teams must take a mandatory 8 hour break to rest the dogs for the 77 mile sprint to the victory arch over Front Street in Nome.
Left to right:  Jessie Royer looks fairly safe in 6th. Aliy Zirkle in 8th may come under pressure from Peter Kaiser. Michelle Phillips in 10th also looks relatively safe.
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of
The Greatest Race on Earth
by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:

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andre_jute_singaporeAndré operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

Sass and Zirkle grab strategic lead in Iditarod

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Sass and Zirkle grab lead in Iditarod
10 March 2016 1620 Alaskan Time

Now it gets a bit confused. The starting time differential is taken into account during the mandatory 24hr stopover. The 8hr stopover must be taken on the Yukon, so Jeff King, taking his 24 hours in Ruby and officially the leader of the race until he is overtaken by Brent Sass, will take two mandatory rest periods relatively closely together between Ruby, Galena, Nulato and Kaltag, before the race turns away from the Yukon down
the Kaltag Portage.
Behind Brent Sass, the real leader of the race, the rest of the top ten will be determined by those who already stopped for their mandatory 24 hours, and whether those who served it at Ophir or before can overtake those who are serving it at Cripple before the Cripple crowd are released.

1926888_737793119585114_1733474995_nEven as I wrote this, Aliy Zirkle catapulted herself into second place behind Sass by blowing through Cripple in twelve minutes, and hour and a half behind Sass.

King_Jeff_2016-150x195Sass_Brent_2016-150x195Zirkle_Aliy_2016-150x195

Jeff King, official leader of the Iditarod.

Brent Sass and Aliy Zirkle, actual leaders.

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jut
eBOOKS iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&
PAPERBACKS Createspace Amazon USA UK

andre_jute_singaporeAndre operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

Negeqvak, the racer without a bib, biggest threat to every would-be Iditarod champion

Everyone knows why no one races in the modern Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race under Bib No. 1, right? It belongs to the late great Leonhard Seppala, hero of the 1925 “Serum Run” from Seward to Nome.

But did you know there is a musher with no bib, no number? His name is Negeqvak, and last year he took the victory away first from Jeff King within spitting distance from the finish line, and then from Aliy Zirkle when she dithered in the face of Negeqvak.

iditarod-race

I’ll let a lifelong Alaskan, John Schandelmeier, a two-time winner of the other 1000 mile race, the Yukon Quest, explainthe relevance of Negeqvak with particular reference to champions and would-be champions:

“Dallas is faster, but if Aaron can force him to cut his rests short … that could change. Neither Aliy Zirkle nor Jesse Royer can be counted out. Neither should negeqvak.”

So who is this Negeqvak, the musher without a bib? Actually, it’s a what. It’s  the Yupik word for “north wind”.

Here’s Schandelmeier in the Alaska Dispatch News on a few of the years in which Negeqvak influenced the outcome of the race:

“Last year saw negeqvak become the deciding factor to give Dallas Seavey one of the biggest come-from-behind victories of all time. New, dry snow coupled with forecasted wind could again be instrumental. Some of the Iditarod’s most memorable victories have come with the wind, including Rick Swenson’s record fifth win in 1991 and Libby Riddles’ historic victory as the first woman champion in 1985.”

Right now at Koyuk, Negeqvak is blowing 15mph NNE.

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My page Iditarod follows the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race live, as it happens. You’re cordially invited to join us.

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André Jute is the author of the much-loved, multi-award-winning bestselling novel IDITAROD a novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and all ebook formats.