Travel is Fast, Rest is Variable as the Iditarod Passes Through Galena

Mar 7, 2014

Aliy Zirkle's dogs rest in the morning sunshine in Galena.
Credit Emily Schwing / KUAC

Galena, AK - Mushers and their dog teams passed in and out of Galena on various schedules throughout the afternoon.

Martin Buser was the first to take off out of the second checkpoint along the Yukon River.  As he put booties on his dogs, he teased Aaron Burmeister about his howling team. “You have to breed a little better eaters there Aaron!” called Buser. 

Burmeister’s team was barking for food as the Nome musher scooped a combination of kibble and meat into their bowls. “It’s really nice to see it yourself and empty out two coolers right when you get into here and get it into them," he says.  "Plus 20 pounds of dog food and 20 pounds of meat so that’s their first meal.  They ate enough calories to get them to Unalakleet already.” His run has not been easy.  His knee is shredded.  It’s a combination of a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus. “On a lot of sharp turns, if there’s a tree in front of me, I tip the sled over so I don’t run into it because I can’t use my right leg to swivel like I usually do driving a sled, so it’s easier for me just to tip the sled over and then pull it around the tree.” he says.

Martin Buser was the first in and out of Galena Friday morning.
Credit Emily Schwing / KUAC

Burmeister says he was two hour ahead of schedule coming into Galena.  Aliy Zirkle says her plan is also playing out well. “My plan was to try not to run them any longer than eight and half to nine and half hours to keep their runs slow," she explains, "so their speed will stay high. That was the plan, I don’t know if it’s going to work.”

Zirkle says she’s puzzled by Martin Buser’s plan to run long and rest short. She’s likely to chase, but she’ll also keep an eye over her shoulder. “Just because everyone’s constantly flowing.  Iditarod is like this vibe of forward and back and you’re never really ahead of anyone are you when they could just stop, put the pedal to the metal and catch up to you.” The trail is hard and fast along the river, so musher will likely try to hold teams back as they near the Bering Sea coast, where many mushers are expect a much more challenging trail.