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Hardcore Huskies Newsletter 08 Race Edition.pdf   [ Archive ]
| The March of the Mighty Eight Continues!||Sat, Mar. 15th, 2008   |
Heather and the might eight members of the Hardcore Team are on the way to White Mountain where, upon their arrival, they will take a mandatory rest for eight hours, their last extended rest stop before they arrive in Nome. They left the Elim checkpoint at 11:25 AM AKDT (3:25 PM EDT).
The trip to White Mountain is broken up into two short legs; first is a 28 mile run to Golovin and then an 18 mile dash onto White Mountain.
The leg to Golovin is one of the more interesting legs on the race, with quite a variety of trail and terrain in a very short distance. Moreover, there is always a possibility of two extremely different routes for the first ten miles. The race follows the main snowmachine “highway” from Elim to Golovin and it is usually well marked and packed.
The trail usually heads back out on the sea ice from Elim and runs a mile or two offshore to a cabin at Walla Walla, on the coast eight miles south of Elim. In some years, when there is open water just off shore, the trail will stay overland on the Old Elim Mail Trail.
At Walla Walla, the trail runs inland and climbs over the Kwiktalik Mountains with a series of long, moderately hard grades. The final summit is 1,000 feet at Little McKinley, about eight miles past Walla Walla and ten miles from Golovin. This is considered the hardest climb on the last half of the race.
The trail then makes a fast descent to Golovin Bay, running northwest along the bay ice for the last five miles to Golovnin. (The bay was first explored by Captain Gloving of the Imperial Russian Navy in the early 1800`s. The bay and lagoon behind the town retain the original spelling; the town’s name ha been changed over the years.)
Heather and the Hardcore Team should plan on three to four hours for this leg. The weather forecast is for temps in the mid-teens with snow and a northeast wind of 15 to 25 mph. This may slow them down a bit because the trip over the mountain is almost all above timberline and exposed to the wind. The trail over Little McKinley can range from icy and windswept to soft and punchy.
Heather and the Hardcore Tem will probably not stay at Golovin too long, most teams don’t. She may snack the dogs and then head directly to White Mountain.
The original Iditarod never went to White Mountain. It headed due west from Golovin to cross the bay, and traversed the peninsula directly to the coast. It then ran up the shoreline to the old settlement of Bluff, and then continued to the mouth of the Topkok River and along the cliffs of Topkok Head before dropping to the beaches for the run to Nome.
The second leg, the run to White Mountain, is normally a yawner, unless the wind is blowing or it’s snowing which the forecast shows it could. Forecasts are for snow showers and a northeast wind of 10 to 20 mph. The trail follows the main snowmachine route, running straight as an arrow for ten miles across Golovin Lagoon, then winding gently around (with some gentle ups and downs) to cross the delta of the Fish River. The last few miles are on the river. There is sometimes overflow on the lagoon or river. Heather and the Team should plan on two to three hours for this leg, perhaps three if the wind is blowing.
When the hardcore Team arrives at White Mountain, Heather will find water may be available, but she might be melting snow. The dogs will be parked on the riverbank below the town, and should be sheltered from a north wind. The checkpoint is in the city hall/library/armory building a couple of blocks away. There is usually plenty to eat in the kitchen and a place to toss your sleeping bag to crash for awhile. Heather and the Hardcore Team will be taking a mandatory eight-hour layover here, so they both may as well get some sleep before they push the final 77 miles to Nome.
From White Mountain it should take the Hardcore Team about 9 hours to reach the finish line in Nome. This means if our calculations are correct, Heather should be arriving in Nome sometime around 6-9 AM AKDT (10 AM to 1 PM EDT) tomorrow.
GO HEATHER, GO!
| ONLY 123 MILES TO GO!||Sat, Mar. 15th, 2008   |
One More Hurdle - Then It’s Onto Nome!
The Hardcore Team is resting in Elim before they head out on the next to last leg of the race, a 46 miles run to White Mountain via a pit stop in Golovin. Heather and her Hardcore Team made up of the mighty eight, arrived in Elim just after midnight Friday; 00:34 AKDT (4:34 EDT) to be exact. It took them 6:59 to make the 48 mile run from Koyuk. The Hardcore Team is now only 123 miles from the burled arch and the finish line in Nome.
They will now rest for a bit in Elim, population less than 300. From here the trail heads over the hills of the Kwiktalik Mountains inland a little ways to the next checkpoint on Golovin Bay where mushers normally stop only long enough to sign the official race log. Then they make their final 18 mile push to While Mountain where all teams are required to rest for eight hours.
From While Mountain it is a short 77 miles to the end via the last checkpoint on the trail at the Safety Roadhouse!
| KX TV Reports Hardcore Progress||Sat, Mar. 15th, 2008   |
KX TV12 in Bsiarmck North Dakota continues to track Heather and the Hardcpore Team. This afternoon they spoke with Heather High, the Hardcore dog handler who is waiting for the Hardcore Team at the finish line in Nome. To view the story CLICK HERE.
| Hardcore Team Inching Closer to Nome||Fri, Mar. 14th, 2008   |
Heather and the Hardcore Team have hit the trail again and are off to Elim. They left Koyuk at 5:35 PM AKDT (9:35 EDT) this evening for the 48 mile run to Elim. This leg of the race this year is taking teams 5 to 7 hours.
The Hardcore Team will leave Koyuk on the sea ice headed southwest along the shore. The trail generally stays just far enough offshore to avoid the shore ice which can be jumbled and rough see a prominent rocky headland ahead at about the ten-mile point. The trail will cut inshore just past it run for another couple of miles across low ground and then begin to climb over a series of small ridges, eventually getting back into the tree line.
The Team will cross the highest ridge at a 300-foot summit after a moderate quarter-mile climb. Because they are making the run during the day Heather may see Mount Kwiniuk, a 2,000-foot mountain right on the coast five miles past Elim, 35 miles away.
After the summit they’ll descend quickly back to the lowlands, running through taiga and tundra and a few small ponds. About five miles from the summit they’ll drop down to cross the mouth of the Kwik River, only a few hundred yards wide. The Kwik River valley is a natural wind tunnel and the wind can be blowing very hard here from the north. At last check the wind was about 15 mph. The sky was clear and it was 7 degrees.
There is a shelter cabin on the far side of the river if it gets too bad. The shelter cabin is about 25 miles from Elim. If she keeps the Team going, the wind will usually switch to blow more at their back and they should be out of it within ten more miles.
After the Kwik River, the trail passes the shelter cabin and then runs along the top of the beach for about three miles. Then it drops back down onto the open ice to the southwest to cut across the mouth of Kwiniuk Inlet to Moses Point. The over ice portion is about two miles. The trail is usually hard and fast, but there may be overflow from high tides or storms.
Moses Point is the tip of a long, low, narrow spit extending back to the west. Soon after Heather climbs back off the ice, she will begin to see houses and cabins. This is old Elim, now used as a fishing camp. It was the main village until new Elim was built 30 years ago on high ground 15 miles west. It stretches for several miles along the spit. Once in awhile one of the cabins is used during the winter for hunting.
The trail will wind through the cabins and finally bump down onto the ice of Kwiniuk Inlet behind the spit. From here the trail can get soft and punchy (with possible overflow) as it meanders for several miles west over to the abandoned Moses Point FAA station; Heather will see the old towers and buildings easily as soon as she leaves old Elim. From about 1940 until the late 1960s this was a major airport and stopping point for airplanes heading to and from Nome. The only thing left operating here now is an unattended radio beacon.
The Hardcore Team will then wander by the old buildings and pick up a road headed west. They’re about ten miles from Elim. In recent years the race has followed the road all the way into Elim. The first couple of miles of the road across the flats are usually windblown and bare in spots. Heather may be able to guide the dogs to run in the ditch alongside the road or perhaps on the shoulder. If she runs on the bare part of the gravel road, you will trash your runner plastic in about two minutes.
At the end of the flats the road becomes solidly snow packed and they’ll begin a steady climb to get on top of the bluffs where Heather will see the coast to her left.. Finally they’ll reach the crest of the road (the Team’s back in the trees by the way—this part of the coast supports the biggest forest on the Seward Peninsula) and start down a long downgrade into Elim.
The checkpoint is usually in the big state maintenance garage; Heather and the Hardcore Team will be met by the checker on the road and will guide them in. Heather will probably find water is available (sometimes “hot” water) and there are usually good munchies in the checkpoint plus a place to rest. Elim is normally well sheltered from the north wind, so the mighty Hardcore dogs can get some quality rest here if they need it.
When they arrive, Heather and the Hardcore Team will only be 123 miles from Nome.
| Hardcore Team on the Home Stretch!||Fri, Mar. 14th, 2008   |
Heather and the Hardcore Team are one checkpoint closer to their goal of reaching Nome. They arrived in Koyuk at 10:04 AM AKDT (2:04 EDT), after a 7 hour and 27 minute trip from Shaktoolik across the ice of Norton Sound. She ran this leg only about 30 minutes slower than last year with one less dog.
The costal village of Koyuk has a population of about 250. Now that she has reached this checkpoint, Heather and her Hardcore Team can breathe a sigh of relief as almost all of the rest of the trail is at least over land. The checkpoint in Koyuk is the City Recreation Center.
Heather and her mighty Hardcore Team have now completed 941 miles and have only 171 more to go to get to Nome.
After resting for a few hours, they will head up the coast another 48 miles to the checkpoint in Elim. After that they have two short runs; first to Golovin then to White Mountain. When the Hardcore Tem arrives in White Mountain they must take a mandatory 8 hour rest before they travel the final 77 miles to Nome.
Heather is still running well ahead of her pace set last year. In 2007 Heather did not reach Koyuk until 13 days 21 hours into the race. This year she arrived at 11 days 18 hours, 26 minutes, an improvement of well over two days.