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Iditarod 2019, Day 4: A Focus on Rookies, Rest Strategy, and Team Sizes

Woman in blue and purple parka with red hat

Warm weather on the trail — that is, temperatures in the 20s and 30s — continued to affect Iditarod teams into Iditarod’s fourth day.

Here are highlights from KNOM’s Iditarod coverage on Tuesday, March 5. (Note: due to an outage with KNOM’s web server, this Iditarod digest and some elements of the content below were not available on this site until Wednesday, March 6.)


  • KNOM trail reporter Ben Matheson introduced listeners and readers to a handful of the rookies on the trail in Iditarod 2019. In “Meet a Few Rookies of Iditarod 2019,” we meet Martin Apayauq Reitan, Jessica Klejka, Ed Hopkins, and Niklas Wikstrand.
  • In Rainy Pass, Alaska Public Media’s Zachariah Hughes reported that trail conditions and weather were primary factors in mushers’ strategy. Being out in front of the pack means avoiding running on a deteriorated trail, Matt Hall told Zach: “It’s definitely an advantage being towards the front early on, just because of that, you know, you get 20,000 dog feet over it and 50 sleds, and it starts getting softer and softer as the heat of the day comes on, too.” Read more in “At Rainy Pass, Time for a Break.”
  • Tuesday evening, Ben Matheson reported again, this time on the mixed reactions of veteran Iditarod mushers with regards to the race’s decision to reduce the maximum size of sled dog teams: from 16 down to 14. Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Mitch Seavey, and Martin Buser all expressed their preference for larger teams, while Nome musher Aaron Burmeister said that times have changed such that smaller teams have become more viable. “In today’s Iditarod, with the nutrition, the training, the evolution of the sled dogs, you really don’t need more than 12 (dogs). They’re incredible, powerful athletes.” Read more in “Mushers Have Mixed Reactions as Iditarod Reduces Maximum Team Size from 16 to 14.”

Trail Weather

Our thanks to University of Alaska–Fairbanks climatologist Rick Thoman for his ongoing series of weather reports tailored for each day’s musher movements along the Iditarod Trail. Here’s Rick’s forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday:

On-Air Updates

In the 2pm Iditarod Update on Tuesday, Davis and Emily chat about the state of the Iditarod leaderboard with Ben Matheson, live from McGrath, shortly before Nicolas Petit’s arrival into the checkpoint:


Photos from Rainy Pass and Rohn; click through to view larger sizes and for captions)

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