Sean and the dogs reached White Mountain at 1:59 am this morning. You know the wind is howling when all GPS movement has ceased. “Shelter in place” has many connotations nowadays.

Some may notice the team resting longer than the eight hours that are required as mandatory rest in White Mountain.  This next run to Safety can be the most dangerous leg of the race when weather is sour.  Trail markers are easily blown away and they are critical for this stretch when visibility is potentially non-existent.  Time to break out those goggles, Sean!  The team is in for a tough final push as a winter storm warning for Southern Seward Peninsula Coast is in effect until 12:00 pm tomorrow/Friday, March 20th.  Gusts as high as 50 mph are expected.

Those of you that have followed Husky Homestead for a while may recall Jeff’s run from White Mountain to Safety in 2014.  Running in first place, he was blown off course in an area known as the “blowhole”, and ultimately ended up having to scratch after he accepted help from travelers on snow machine that took him to Safety.  For a recap of how the finish played out that year, check out Anchorage Daily News’ “Video: King, Seavey recall dramatic finish of Iditarod 2014”.

Here are a couple of links to check out if you’d like to know more about the trail from White Mountain to Safety, or what lies ahead from Safety to Nome!

Fellow racers Jessica Kleyka, Jason Campeau, Lance Mackey, Lev Shvarts and Tim Pappas have already braved the storm and are just now rolling out of or into Safety.  From the average speeds on their trackers, the wind seems to be manageable.  Moving as a pack is smart in present conditions.

Two of Sean’s teammates, Earl and Noche, were left in Koyuk early Wednesday, and arrived safely in Anchorage last night.  Jerry, Earl and Noche will all be reunited with our crew soon – plenty of snuggles and treats are in order!

Meanwhile in Nome, our trusty vet tech and resident “doer of all things”, Maren, is awaiting the team’s arrival!  Maren pulled a volunteer shift at the Nome dog lot late last night in order to lend a hand with the shortage of volunteers, and told us this morning that it was a full-blown blizzard – complete with rain at times.  Yuk!  She was pretty soaked after all was said and done, but she’s dried out and gotten a nap in so she can be ready with the rest of our friends for Sean’s arrival.  If standings continue as they are, Sean will be the third rookie to cross the finish line behind Tom Frode Johansen and Mille Porsild, who also snagged Rookie of the Year honors. Two Husky Homestead athletes raced with Porsild in the Copper Basin 300 earlier this year.  Congratulations, Mille!

Stay tuned as the teams’ race continues!

Photo Find

Sean Underwood checking in at Koyuk on March 17, 2020  (© Melissa Shelby)

Other Race News

“Quince Mountain withdrawn from 2020 Iditarod”  Rookie Iditarod musher Quince Mountain (bib #50), of Mountain, Wisconsin, has been withdrawn from the 2020 Iditarod race as of 11:38 a.m. today at the Unalakleet checkpoint.  While Mountain wished to continue the race, race marshal Mark Nordman made the decision based on rule 36 of the official Iditarod race rules regarding competitiveness. Both Mountain and his race team are in good health. Mountain had 14 dogs in harness at the time of the withdrawal.

“Karin Hendrickson scratches at Shaktoolik checkpoint”  Veteran Iditarod musher Karin Hendrickson (bib #15) of Wasilla, Alaska, scratched at 2:30 p.m. today. Hendrickson scratched at the Shaktoolik checkpoint, which was relocated to Old Shaktoolik with help from the community.  Hendrickson made the decision to scratch in the best interest of her race team. Hendrickson had nine dogs in harness at the time she made the decision to scratch.