Well this Iditarod turned out to have about everything that could be thrown at the mushers, and then some. Over the years I’ve been used to seeing little snow in the Farewell Burn, but coming out of Rainy Pass I was surprised to see the are a along the Kuskokwim River and Little Egypt Mountain completely brown. There were large areas there that had no snow at all.
The dry trail made for some hairy dog mushing and took its toll on the mushers with more than 10 mushers scratching in the first 3 days due to busted up sleds and bodies from the dry trail.
There were a lot of choice words for the trail and the Iditarod Trail Committee from some of the mushers when they arrived in Nikolai. In McGrath I listened to Jason Mackey as he described his ride through the mountains and along the trail. “ It was like being on a roller coaster that was completely out of control. I felt like I was free falling through the air at times and actually feared for my life.” Fortunately neither Jason or his dogs were injured and he finished in 34th place.
For those that made it through the snowless part of the trail intact, they probably thought the worse was behind them, but Norton Sound is known for its storms and as the leaders worked their way to the finish in Nome some real bad weather set in. Four time Iditarod champion set out from White Mountain with what seemed to be an insurmountable lead, only to be hammered into submission by a raging ground blizzard that brought his team to a standstill. Waiting at the finish line in Nome and watching the Iditarod tracker, we saw that Jeff had been stationary just a few miles from the Safety checkpoint, then Aily Zirkle passed him before she became stationary in Safety for a long time. While she waited out the storm in Safety, Dallas Seavey passed through without seeing her there. He pushed on to Nome thinking he was in 3rd place and just hoping to beat his dad Mitch who was behind him. It took Aily almost 20 minutes to get her team organized and try to chase down Dallas. With a larger, faster team she made up 17 minutes of that time, but Dallas crossed the finish line less than 3 minutes ahead of her, a very surprised Iditarod 2014 Champion in a record breaking time of 8 days, 13 hours and 4 minutes. Good going Dallas!