March 07, 2003


Your Iditarod update for today

Otherwise known as, "Jeff don't know shit."

Norwegian musher collections $3,000 in gold nuggets

The Associated Press

March 7, 2003

Eagle Island -- Norway's Robert Sorlie has become the first musher to reach the halfway point in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Sorlie reached Eagle Island on the Yukon River at 3:29 a.m. Friday, maintaining the lead he has held for hundreds of miles. He wins $3,000 in gold nuggets for reaching the halfway point first.

His nearest competitor is three-time champion Jeff King, who left the Kaltag checkpoint, 70 miles back, just before 5 a.m. Rick Swenson, the race's only five-time champion, left Kaltag at 7:11 a.m.

Unlike Sorlie, King and Swenson have completed the mandatory 8-hour layover that mushers are required to take on the Yukon River stretch of the race. Swenson is now the only musher traveling with a full, 16-dog team.

Sorlie's travel times have been brisk. On the 50-mile run to Kaltag Sorlie averaged a solid 11 mph. At nearly halfway into the race, that's almost as fast as some of the other top teams traveled during the very first leg of the trail out of Fairbanks.

Norwegian musher Arne Oddvar Nilsen, an organizer of the 1,000-kilometer Finnmarkslopet, told the Anchorage Daily News Sorlie's strategy was to the get to the front of the Iditarod early and try to stay there for a couple reasons.

"Don't forget the point that one of Sorlie's main concerns is to avoid getting any gastric infection from other teams," Nilsen said in one of several e-mail exchanges. "His dogs have had a very short time to adapt to function in Alaska. ... Bedding down where other teams have been before is increasing the risk of being infected."

The strategy is reminiscent of that used by Montana's Swingley on the way to most of his Iditarod victories.

Defending champion Martin Buser remained in Kaltag Friday morning, in fourth place. He arrived in Kaltag just before 8 p.m., about an hour before King. In fifth place was John Baker of Kotzebue, who also remained in Kaltag Friday morning. He arrived in Kaltag at about 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

Posted by Jeff at March 7, 2003 06:43 PM | TrackBack