2016 Iditarod: A Yentna River Experience
Before the mushers arrived at my location shortly after the start of the 2016 Iditarod, I found myself restless and eager with anticipation. I paced along the frozen bed of the Yentna River with my camera in hand, waiting.
The winter sun reached its climax and was beginning its descent. Whispers and echoes of someone on the horizon were being passed from group to group. A distant hum turned into a roar. Hovering over the first musher was a helicopter, and soon a small aircraft came buzzing by.
The musher and team were soon in reach of my zoom lens. People congregated close to the trail where the musher would pass by. Excitement bounced from person to person. The Iditarod Race had begun for us on this small section of the Yentna.
More teams appeared and flew by us with small waves of the hand, nods, and thank-yous. We cheered each as if they were our personal favorites, and the mushers were appreciative of the support. Some were talkative, some more focused. The dogs raced by as if we were invisible. They were on a mission and stuck to their course.
The 2016 Race in Review
This was the first day of each team’s long journey to Nome. The 2016 Iditarod would see a record breaking finish, as well as tragedy resulting in a rule change.
Dallas Seavey (check out our profile of Dallas Seavey) completed the race in a record time of 8d 11h 20m 16s, and won his third consecutive race.
Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King (check out our profile of Jeff King) were both terrorized by Arnold Demoski of Nulato, who was sentenced to 6 months and 3 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution to the mushers for aiming his snowmachine at the mushers, and injuring three of King’s dogs as well as killing one.
The Iditarod rules committee later agreed to a rule change allowing mushers to carry a two communication device with them because of this incident.
The 2017 Iditarod will begin in two days. What will this year bring? Will either Jeff King or Dallas Seavey tie Rick Swenson for the most wins in Iditarod history? Maybe this will be the year that Aliy Zirkle becomes the only woman to win a Yukon Quest and Iditarod championship? Don’t count out Martin Buser. Watch out for Mitch Seavey (check out our profile of Mitch Seavey).
Article and Photos by Cecil Sanders
Who do you think will win? Comment with your pick to win below.
Enjoy this? Here are a few other stories you may like:
2017 Iditarod Reroute
The Original Iditarod Trail
A Winning Strategy
Dog Races – The Fastest Dogs Don’t Always Win
Why Moving the Iditarod Trail is a Good Idea