Poor weather prevents food from reaching Iditarod checkpoint

March 10, 2018
FILE - In this March 3, 2018, file photo, defending Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey rounds a turn during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska. Poor weather on Friday, March 9, 2018, caused some logistical challenges for mushers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen, file)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Poor weather on Friday caused logistical challenges for mushers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

A low ceiling was preventing small airplanes from delivering food to Eagle Island, one of only four checkpoints on the Yukon River.

Race officials told mushers that they should carry enough food to last them for the 122 miles (196 kilometers) of trail between the checkpoints of Grayling and Kaltag, Anchorage television station KTVA reported . Eagle Island is located between those two checkpoints, and remains staffed with veterinarians in case a musher needs to drop a dog from the race.

Race rules require that mushers and dog teams take an eight-hour rest at a Yukon River checkpoint. Race Marshal Mark Nordman informed mushers they would not be allowed to take that break at Eagle Island, leaving only the checkpoints of Anvik, Grayling and Kaltag as possible locations for the mandatory rest period.

Defending champion Mitch Seavey and Norwegian musher Joar Ulsom were the first to reach the checkpoint in Grayling on Friday afternoon, with Nicolas Petit not far behind. Petit was the only musher so far to take his eight hour break on the river, resting in the checkpoint at Anvik.

Petit might have been drowsy after consuming a big meal. The native of France now living in Girdwood was the first musher to pull into Anvik, just after 5 a.m. Friday. For being the first musher to reach the Yukon River, he was feted with a gourmet meal in the middle of the Alaska wilderness, prepared by a chef flown in from Anchorage.

Petit’s meal included coconut and curry pork tenderloin soup, stuffed jumbo shrimp wrapped in prosciutto and a pan-seared and flambéed bison tenderloin served with pear and cherry chutney. For dessert, he was given a gift of $3,500 in $1 bills and a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne.

The nearly 1,000 mile (1,609 kilometer) race across Alaska started last Sunday in Willow, Alaska, with 67 mushers. Three have scratched, including Scott White of Snohomish, Washington. He quit the race Friday, saying it was in the best interest of his team.

The winner is expected in Nome early next week.