Iditarod Day 4: One for the history books

Iditarod 2014 has been one for the record books, already on day four. Twelve mushers have scratched and according to our sources, there is not a single sled that has not been broken. Mushers have sustained concussions, broken bones, torn ligaments, bruises and bumps.  

Text: Barry Siragusa. Photos:Sebastian Schnuelle. Above: Martin Buser runs on glare ice on his way to Rohn. 

As we speak the leaders of Iditarod 2014 are into of checkpoint Ophir. Aaron Burmeister and Sonny Lindner have already left, choosing to move farther on down the trail before taking there 24 hour mandatory layover. My sources in Alaska tell me that Lindner will most likely stop and stay in Cripple for his 24hr.

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Sonny Lindner on his way in. Photo:Sebastian Schnuelle

Aaron Burmeister is emerging as this years Cowboy, making surprise runs and showing that he is willing to change his schedule on the fly to compete, so who knows where he will take his 24 hour mandatory. Aaron dislocated his knee during the run from Rohn to Nikolai, and tore his ACL in the same accident. Despite the injury, he bandaged his knee and is now second on the trail to Cripple and Ruby.

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Aaron Burmeister bandaged his knee in McGrath. Photo:Sebastian Schnuelle

This years Iditarod will certainly go down in history as one of the toughest. As of 14:30 norwegian time, twelve teams have scratched due to musher injury.

DeeDee Jonrowe is slightly injured after hitting her head on the way down Dalzel Gorge and chose to scratch in Rohn feeling it was in the best interests of her team to not attempt The Burn when she was not fully healthy.

It was briefly reported that Jake Berkowitz had broken his leg, outside of Rohn on the trail to Nikolai but, according to his wife Robin, that is not accurate. His leg is indeed injured, just not broken. His sled on the other hand was most definitely broken. Both back stanchions were missing as well as the drag mat and bar break. The Iditarod Trail Crew had to go and pick up Berkowitz and his dogs with a snow machine. Berkowitz was very critical before the race of the Iditarod Trail Committees decision to hold the restart in Willow instead of moving it to Fairbanks, where the trail conditions were better.

Rookie Gus Guenther broke his ankle on the way to Rohn.


Veteran Hans Gatt broke his nose after hitting a tree.

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Hans Gatt with two black eyes after his encounter with a tree. Photo:Sebastian Schnuelle

At this point in the race there are only three teams that have completed their 24 hour mandatory rest. Martin Buser, Kelly Maixner and Ralph Johannessen.

Martin Buser has a commanding lead if you consider that there are no teams in front of him who have taken their 24’s yet. He sprained his ankle on his way in to Nikolai, but seemed confident that he would be able to continue.

Kelly Maixner chose to take his 24 in Rohn and faced the treacherous trail between Rohn and Nikolai with a fresh dog team. It would appear that it went well as he pulled in to Nikolai and after resting for 05:22 left on his way to McGrath. 

Ralph Johannessen took his 24 in Rohn, as his sled was too damaged to continue. Luckily he was able to borrow a sled from Mike Santos, who scratched in Rohn. Ralph will certainly climb the result list quickly as he passes teams who are taking their 24’s.


«He was very pleased with his team. He should be»- Joe Runyan 

Robert Sørlie, despite crashing in the Dalzel Gorge outside of Rohn and losing the tail of his tail dragger sled (losing too his bowls and cooker), is up towards the front of the race with a dog team that looks very good according to former Champion Joe Runyan.
-Sorlie has parked his dogs for a 24 and told Insider Bruce Lee that he was very pleased with his team. He should be. I saw them loping into Nikolai earlier today and all 16 looked solid, said Runyan.

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Robert Sørlie leaving McGrath. Photo:Sebastian Schnuelle

Jeff King has also crashed his sled and lost his cooker and dog bowls. Jeff crashed on the trail between Rohn and Nikolai, and lost the sled bag on the specially made trailer attachement of his sled. King says he was so focused on trying to stay upright that he didn’t notice that he was losing gear. Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordmen has given both King and Sorlie a fine for littering, as they were unable to recover their lost equipment.

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Jeff King on his way in to McGrath. Photo:Sebastian Schnuelle

The Norwegian Rookies Tommy Jordbrudal, Yvonne Dåbakk and Ralph Johannessen are all on the trail between Rohn and Nikolai, navigating the 100km long stretch of snowless terrain before hitting better trails from Nikolai onward.

The next 36 hours will determine who has made the best strategic move and comes out ahead after taking their 24 hour mandatory rest. Right now Martin Buser looks to be the clear leader, but until he arrives in McGrath, we will not know how much his team recovered during their rest. Aliy Zirkle, Nicolas Petit, Joar Ulsom, Robert Sørlie, John Baker, Paul Gebhardt, Jeff King, Dallas Seavey and Mitch Seavey are also right up at the front of the pack and look strong. It is still anybodys race.

                                               A team resting after some tough trail
                                                      Photo:Sebastian Schnuelle 


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