Wet and snowy conditions on the Iditarod Trail

Day 10 ITI

Trail conditions on the Iditarod Trail are not ideal right now for people or dogs. Temperatures are warming in the Iditarod area and making travel difficult in wet conditions and soft trails.

Two  fat-bikers in the ITI have turned around. German rider Florian Reiterberger is having knee issues and pushed his bike back to Ophir. He is getting a flight out to Wasilla tomorrow. Scottish rider and race veteran Donald Kane, a previous Nome finisher, pulled the plug on his race after heading into heavy snow into the Takotna hills. He walked back to McGrath and flew back to Anchorage today.

Klaus Schweinberger left McGrath and is on his way to Takotna.

Grant Maughan is waiting on new shoes. The ones he used to McGrath caused him foot issues.

9 racers of the 16 who signed up for the 1000-mile event are still in the running.

We are following the Iditarod Sled Dog race updates to get a glimpse of current trail conditions, as well as monitoring speeds and mileage covered by the ITI racers. However, mushing dogs over trail is not the same as riding a bike or running the Iditarod Trail by human power. Dogs don’t need a surface as hard as human athletes do to move forward on a snowy winter trail.

There are several scenarios possible with the current weather pattern on the section from Gayling to Kaltag, a wide-open stretch on the Yukon River of over 100 miles.

The trail could set up hard with cooling temperatures and create fast trails; it could be sugary snow; it could be the consistency of powdered milk or mashed potatoes — all depending on snow, wind, temperature and other factors.

Another issue for these athletes will be moisture management and trench foot issues. Getting wet and damp in these conditions will get you chilled quickly, and it is hard to stay dry. Then you get cold, and it is difficult to dry anything without external heat.

Racers can build a fire. We did in the 2008 race, when we got rained on near Cripple on the Northern Route.

Trench foot is a condition that reduces circulation in your feet and toes due to prolonged wet and cold conditions. It also encourages blister formation. Worst case, you can lose toes if you keep them in this condition too long.

Historically, the Yukon River on this particular section on the South Route between Grayling and Kaltag has dished out sugary snow, head winds and drifted-in trails, and often slow unrideable trails, even slow for foot travel.

We will keep our eyes peeled on the Trackleaders ITI tracking page and see what progress racers are making.

Kathi MerchantComment