2019 Iditarod Coverage -- Day 11

The Burled Arch of Nome

By: Michael Rogers

The 2019 Iditarod Champion is Pete Kaiser of Bethel with an arrival time in Nome of 3:39a for a total elapsed race time of 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and 6 seconds.

The 2019 Iditarod race finished early this morning for the first place winner, Pete Kaiser. Photo by: Jeff Schultz

Joar Ulsom of Norway, who claimed second place, joined him in the chute just 12 minutes later. Jessie Royer with a fantastic run claimed 3rd at 9:34a this morning in her 17th race to Nome. Aliy Zirkle finished her 19th Iditarod race in 4th place at 5:26p for her 8th Top Ten finish. For Aliy, it’s maybe described as “always a bridesmaid and never a bride” much to the disappointment of her legion of fans. Zirkle frequently gets more cheers than the actual winner when she’s in the chute. Travis Beals has claimed 5th with an excellent run this evening at 6:37p.

This year in front Nome ,the Bering Sea ice, which usually stretches out for a LONG way, is gone as of a couple weeks ago. So now, we have an opportunity to make photos of the mushers with a once-in-a-lifetime look of open water and icebergs. Usually the ice does not go out until early or mid-May. Here's Aliy Zirkle running on this stretch of trail just a couple miles from the Nome finish line where she took 4th place.

Photo by: Jeff Schultz
Aliy Zirkle poses with her lead dogs at the Nome finish line with her lead dogs Mismo and Dutch after placing 4th in the 2019 Iditarod.
Photo by Jeff Schult

Still on the trail and rounding out the Top Ten are Paige Drobny at Mile 985, Matt Hall at Mile 984, Ramey Smith at Mile 974, Mitch Seavey at 970, and Aaron Burmeister at Mile 966. I would suspect at least one or two position changes before they hit Nome as the back of the top ten has been very competitive to date. The top ten should all be across the line by around midnight tonight.

Jesse Holmes has finally departed Elim after 36 hours of rest. He had run in the front pack consistently and had what is arguably the fastest team on the course until a stomach virus reportedly hit his team hard. Well off his earlier pace, he crept into Elim at 1.32 miles per hour. Food is the fuel of a sled dog and during racing they can burn over 13,000 calories per day. Even a mildly disruptive stomach ailment can render a team stationary. Well wishes to Jesse as he limps his outstanding team toward Nome. I would wager we would see him next year in his third Iditarod race. Matt Failor has similarly fell from the front pack to the middle as well.

Jessie Holmes and team leave the ceremonial start line with an Iditarider in the 2019 Iditarod. Photo by Brendan Smith/SchultzPhoto.com

Also stationary is current Red Lantern Blair Braverman who left Kaltag at 9:48a yesterday and made it nearly to Old Woman Cabin is a series of fits and starts. She then reversed back up the trail toward Kaltag and arrived at Tripod Flats Cabin at 7:15p and hasn’t moved in the last 24 hours.  I would suspect a similar issue as Holmes with her team as well. Just down the trail in Unalakleet, Sebastien Dos Santos Borges has scratched at 5:25p with 11 dogs in harness. Much like Braverman, his run from Kaltag took over 40 hours and his team is clearly not running well.

At this point in the race, the middle pack is stretched from Koyuk to Elim and is made up of up and comers just getting Iditarod experience and some mushing legends like King, Buser, and Mackey just doing what they love and taking more time to enjoy it. The back of the pack is stretched from Koyuk back to Tripod Flats and is made up largely of rookies or folks with just a race or two under their belt. One exception is Cindy Gallea of Wykoff, MN; this is her 15th Iditarod and she generally finishes in the 12 to 14 day mark. At 67 years young and a fraction of her age tough, she’s only scratched twice since her first race in 1998. She said of this year’s race, “I’d decided to retire from the Iditarod…a couple of times before…but here I am, back for one more run.” For her, this race has always been about the dogs and the allure of the North.

‪Congratulations to Pete Kaiser for winning the 2019 Iditarod! Here is Pete with Marrow and Lucy at the Nome finish line. Pete's winning time is 9 days 12 hours 39 minutes and 6 seconds.‬. Photo by: Jeff Schultz


Rooting for Jesse Holmes for 2020!!! I was so sad when I saw on “Life Below Zero” that your dogs got sick. That was such a bummer, but you definitely did the right thing. But there is no doubt that y’all are champions and I’ll be watching and rooting for you again next year! Good Luck!
From Louisiana

P.S. your new home is really nice. Great Job!!! Just Wish we could see a little more if it.

Rhonda April 17, 2021

Jesse! 2020 is your year ! My wife and I have seen the race many times! Live in MI. Now! We r going to see the 2020 race! We will be rooting for u sir! Love watching u on the show too!

Merry Christmas!!

Rick April 17, 2021

I’m sorry that jesse had problems with his team getting sick keep your head up high because you have what it takes to be a champion and in my eyes you already are putting your team ahead of winning you are a true champion!!! from Jerry from Minnesota

Gerald Mickolichek April 17, 2021

Rooting hard for Jesse Holmes for 2020. You have what it takes!!! ❤

Carrie White April 17, 2021

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