Iditarod Day 9: Leaders make it in to Elim, Petit & two others scratch

Nic Petit discusses the race with Channel 2 as he pulled into Unalakleet during the 2019 Iditarod race.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) — 11:15 p.m. Update:
The top two mushers have checked into Elim. Peter Kaiser and Joar Leifseth Ulsom arrived in the village less than an hour apart from each other.

Third place, Jessie Royer is the only other musher to have checked into and out of Koyuk.

Girdwood-based Nicolas Petit scratched in Shaktoolik after a heartbreaking day with his team. The musher and the dogs spent hours at the Shelter Island cabin. Race officials say Petit made the decision for the mental well-being of the dogs.

8:00 p.m. Update:
Aliy Zirkle and Jessie Holmes have checked into Koyuk. Zirkle clocked in at 7:21 p.m. Monday, and Holmes, last year's Rookie of the Year, at 7:49 p.m.

Meanwhile, race leader Pete Kaiser is about 15 miles from the checkpoint of Elim.

7:31 p.m. Update:
Iditarod veteran Lev Shvarts has scratched from the 2019 Iditarod in Unalakleet.

Iditarod officials say he made the decision at 6:20 p.m. for the "best interest of his race team," which was made up of seven dogs at the time.

Also happening Monday evening, onetime race leader Nic Petit appeared to be returning to the Shaktoolik checkpoint. Read more about that here.

5:16 p.m. Update:
Jessie Royer has checked out of Koyuk at 4:55 p.m. in 3rd place with 11 dogs after five hours and nine minutes in the checkpoint.

3:34 p.m. Update:
Joar Leifseth Ulsom is back on the trail in 2nd place with eight dogs after five hours and 16 minutes in Koyuk.

2:40 p.m. Update:
Pete Kaiser has checked out of Koyuk in the lead with nine dogs as of 2:15 p.m. Monday.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Jessie Royer remain in Koyuk as of 2:40 p.m.

9:30 a.m. Update:

Iditarod Insider interviews with Nic Petit shed light on what took him out of first place early Monday morning.

According to Petit, his dogs flew out of Shaktoolik "like a rocket" but, when one of his dogs went to go to the bathroom, another dog "got a hold of him at one point, he jumped on him while he was on the ground."

Petit then yelled at the older dog to leave the younger dog alone, and that's when Petit said the other dogs changed.

"Everybody heard daddy yelling. Which doesn't happen. And then they wouldn't go anymore. Anywhere," he said.

After that, the dog team pace went to a crawl, and the dogs barely managed to walk to a cabin after a forced rest on the sea ice, which took up even more time.

"They know where the cabin is. I'm really surprised that they didn't just go to the cabin," Petit said. "They're all fine, they all ate good, no orthopedic issue. Just a head thing."

This is the same stretch of trail where Petit faced misfortune last year, going off trail and wasting precious time. This detail wasn't lost on Petit, who said the delay was weighing on him personally as well.

"I ain't moving, so I'm not doing that great," Petit said in the trail interview.

According to GPS data and the Iditarod standings site, Pete Kaiser checked in to Koyuk, and is in the lead.

8:50 a.m. Update:

According to officials with the Iditarod's public relations team, musher Robert Redington has scratched.

He left the race toward the back half of the pack, at the checkpoint of Kaltag. His scratch was recorded at 8 a.m.

"Redington scratched out of the best interest of his race team," officials wrote in a release Monday morning. "Redington had eight dogs with him at the time he made the decision to scratch."

8:15 a.m. Update:

Three mushers have pulled ahead of previous leader Nic Petit, and are several miles away from reaching the checkpoint of Koyuk, according to GPS data.

Pete Kaiser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, and Jessie Royer all passed Petit when he unexpectedly rested on the trail out of Shaktoolik. This is the second year in a row when Petit lost the lead on the path between the two checkpoints.

Though Kaiser was spotted as being the closest to Koyuk on the GPS Iditarod trail tracker, his signal appears to be having difficulty remaining broadcast. As a result, his standing drops and reappears from the lead position.

The reason for Petit's stop on the trail is not yet known.

Original Story:

The musher who has been leading for parts of the race appears to be resting near coastal sea ice, according to GPS coordinates.

Girdwood's Nic Petit was the first musher to reach previous checkpoints of Unalakleet and Shaktoolik, but now the Iditarod trail tracker GPS shows him as resting out on a land bar near Reindeer Cove, surrounded by sea ice.

This is the same stretch of the race where, in 2018, Petit went off course after losing the trail, which some argue cost him the race.

Petit is still recorded as being in first place, as he was the first musher to check out of Shaktoolik, and no one has reached the checkpoint of Koyuk yet.

However, according to the GPS data, several mushers have now passed Petit up, with Pete Kaiser in first, Joar Leifseth Ulsom in second, and Jessie Royer in third.

Those mushers, along with Petit, are the only ones to have left Shaktoolik, with the race's current 5th place, Mitch Seavy, resting in Shaktoolik, and the rest of the mushers still on the way there.

This is a developing story and will be updated.



 
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