Mushers trickle into Nome
NOME, Alaska (AP) _ Front Street was a musher’s version of rush hour Wednesday as a pack of Iditarod racers, battling for a spot in the top 10, arrived at the finish line.
One after another, with the regularity of commuter trains, nine teams trotted under the burled arch. Race officials quickly hustled each dog team out of the finish chute to make way for the next.
Vern Halter of Willow led the way, driving his nine-dog team down Front Street at 7:58 a.m. Alaska time.
Martin Buser had already claimed his third Iditarod victory 12 hours earlier. Doug Swingley of Lincoln, Mont., Jeff King of Denali Park and Dee Dee Jonrowe of Willow had cruised into town overnight, to claim second, third and fourth places, respectively. None of the top four mushers had any real competition during the final stretch of the race.
Just behind the frontrunners, however, was a group that had been bunched up on the trail. They had been racing for hundreds of miles before sorting themselves out during the race’s last leg.
``It was fast,″ Halter said. ``I could see five teams behind me at one point last night.″
Halter’s fifth-place finish was his best in the nine Iditarods he has run.
Lavon Barve of Wasilla finished in sixth place, eight minutes after Halter, and promptly announced that he would be taking a break from the race. Barve has run in 13 Iditarods over the past 22 years, finishing as high as third in 1990.
``Really, this is a young man’s race,″ the 54-year-old printer said. By midday, Barve had posted a sign on the door of the race headquarters in Nome offering 20 dogs and 10 used sleds for sale. But he left open the possibility that he might be back.
``Good dog mushers have poor memories,″ he said.
Bill Cotter of Nenana finished at 8:37 a.m., outrunning Ramy Brooks of Fairbanks who finished 14 minutes later.
``There was some pretty intense racing going on,″ Cotter said. Brooks’ eighth-place finish was his best in the four Iditarods he has run.
Peryll Kyzer of Willow finished at 9:20 a.m. in ninth place _ her best finish in seven Iditarods.
Tim Osmar claimed 10th place at 9:59. John Baker of Kotzebue finished 11th _ an impressive performance in his second Iditarod.
Sven Engholm of Norway reached Nome at 10:24 a.m. to finish 12th in his second running of the race. Charlie Boulding of Manley finished in 13th place at 10:49 a.m.
By Wednesday afternoon, 30 mushers remained on the 1,100-mile trail from Anchorage to Nome. Fifty-three mushers had begun the race March 1.
Jerome Longo of Willow and Ken Chase of Anvik were the likely candidates to win the Red Lantern, awarded to the last musher to reach Nome. Longo was running in 43rd place and Chase in 44th. They reached Kaltag within 10 minutes of each other Wednesday morning.