UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - You've likely heard about the food inside the Unalakleet checkpoint, but what about outside, on the trail itself?
Veteran Iditarod musher Jessie Royer takes a photo of a slice of pizza delivered to her on the Iditarod Trail just outside the Unalakleet checkpoint. March 10, 2019.
A pizza parlor in the village is hand-delivering pizzas ordered by people across the country to Iditarod mushers on the trail.
"It's just an exciting part of the year," said Bret Hanson, Peace on Earth owner and creator. The restaurant, well-known for its pizza, opens up for a 24-hours-a-day schedule during the Last Great Race.
On Sunday afternoon, only a couple of small orders had been placed, but all for big Iditarod names, include Jessie Royer, Jesse Holmes and others.
"Jessie's getting a 'Good Luck from Florida!' from Gene Burns, and a large, half meat lover's, half veggie, in honor of Aly Marie," Hanson said.
So it goes: Fresh-cut veggies and lots of meat are piled high on sauce and cheese, just for incoming racers, including Royer.
"We make people happy, and watch everybody having a real good time," Hanson said. "It's a real good time."
After the pizzas are baked up, and the cheese is melted down, the final touch is a note from whomever ordered the pizzas for each musher. Hanson and his crew write them on pizza boxes in swirling Sharpie letters.
With the pies ready and boxed up and all the other tasks done, there was only one thing left to do Sunday afternoon as Royer - the first musher in with a pizza on deck - was headed into town: Find her and deliver the goods.
"This is the fun part, if we're lucky enough to see them," Hanson laughed.
Inside the checkpoint, he inquired about Royer's status. He'd barely missed Royer swinging through the checkpoint and continuing forward.
"You better run up," one of the Iditarod checkers said. "Maybe you can get it to the bridge and drop it to her!"
From here, Hanson tried a bridge near the checkpoint, but again, Royer had already blown past. He enlisted the help of fellow pizza chef Larry to assist.
“Just go slow when you get there,” Hanson advised, “and just ask her if she'd like to have her pizzas that she didn't get.”
Flying after Jesse Royer with a steaming hot pizza in tow was a first for the delivery man and a first for Royer, too. She and her team were but a small speck on the horizon, but with a bit of time and a 60-mile-per-hour push, she appeared, alternating her pushing leg.
“I’ll just take a slice,” she said, surprised. “I don't need a whole thing!"
She could choose from two whole piping hot pizzas, stacked high with toppings, a snowmachine's trek past the Unalakleet checkpoint.
"That's awesome; wow!" Royer exclaimed. "That's pretty cool. Pizza delivery by dog team. I gotta get a picture of that. Thank you!"
Off she went, pizza in hand, to chase after the leader of Iditarod 47.