SAFETY CHECKPOINT-Just before 11pm tonight veteran Iditarod dog musher Aily Zirkle checked into the Safety checkpoint. She is 22 miles away from the finish in Nome.
Jeff King, a four time champion and Zirkle, have been going back and forth through last three checkpoints of the race. King finished his eight hour rest at White Mountain and left a little after 3 pm. Zirkle left an hour later and passed King between White Mountain and Safety.
Winds are reported to be blowing from 35 to 45 mph in Safety.
Below is an report from Iditarod's website and author Joe Runyan on the current situation of the mushers and weather conditions in the Safety area.
--"Another call give us more insight to developments on the trail.
King, we are told, was apparently moving in strong winds, when a gust blew sled and team off the trail into driftwood. King was there to untangle the team, and did in fact got them back in line but failed to get the team rolling again. According to our information, Jeff has been wadded up in the drift for an hour and a half.
Aliy passed and didn’t know she passed. She continued to Safety and proceeded to drop several dogs. The wind, having increased, she decided to stay in Safety cabin and regroup. Whether someone told her that she had passed Jeff is not relevant, as she most certainly would know that Jeff had not signed into Safety.
Meanwhile, if all these developments weren’t enough, we are told that wind on the trail ahead around Cape Nome to the finish is absolutely brutal.
Now, to the question astute fans want to ask—What about Dallas Seavey? According to the tracker he is 12 mores from contacting King .
Of course, the development is bizarre when considering the race weather for the last eight days. The weather has been mild for the last 8 days, but the last six hours have developed unimaginable weather.
We’re informed with the best information we can get that winds are horrific at Safety and describe conditions and visibility as strictly marker to marker. Also, according to our sources, the trail going around Cape Nome (further on the trail to Nome) is head-on and will be very strong.
With this new information we learn that Aliy is still in the Safety checkpoint and not continuing in the wind.
What do I think about the wind? RArely do I insert my own direct personal anecdotes into the dialogue, but I think this race is shut down. The winds into Nome are legendary and life threatening. They have killed people, and its not joking around. If you have ever been caught in the wind, you will understand that wind is the ultimate weapon of an arctic winter. In my racing days, I actually sat down and decided what I would do in a big blow. My decision was to not test it. Sometimes you can make it, but often you can’t. To go into the wind and expect others to risk their life, or risk frostbite, to save your decision is foolhardy."--Joe Runyan. VIA-www.iditarod.com