In the heat of competition, Iditarod mushers lend helping hands to one another
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - On a 1,000-mile journey across Alaska, it is just the musher and their four-legged buddies. However, in the effort to complete “The Last Great Race,” mushers sometimes need help from two-legged buddies.
Iditarod musher Chad Stoddard entered the Unalakleet checkpoint Sunday afternoon riding in on a sled that had just one runner for several hundred miles.
“I broke my runner way back when, outside of Ophir and I have been kind of riding it like that for several hundred miles. The drag mat kind of ripped off a bit too, but I latched back on, so that has been a challenge,” Stoddard said while snacking his dogs. “... I’m hoping that my buddy Travis (Beals) here — I talked to him, he said that he has a finishing sled here, and so he offered that one to me.”
Beals arrived shortly after Stoddard as the two were jockeying for position within the top 10 of the standings. Beals, of Seward, did end up loaning his sled to Stoddard, of Anchorage, even if it means he beats him to the burled arch in Nome.
“I mean it’s a race, but you want to help others out. So I can help him out with the sled and getting him down the trail, even though he’s going to beat me with my own sled,” Beals said while putting booties on his dogs before taking off on the trail. “It’s just something you do as a musher, you’re out here to help each other.”
This was not the only instance of mushers helping out on another on the trail this year, especially when it comes to sleds. Mille Porsild broke two runners heading into Kaltag and was able to make her way into Unalakleet before Mitch Seavey lent her his spare sled at the checkpoint.
Most recently, Josh McNeal scratched from the race as rookie Eric Kelly entered the Nulato checkpoint with a busted sled. With no use for his sled anymore, McNeal did not hesitate to let Kelly ride his sled in his first run to the burled arch saying, “make it to Nome and we are good.”
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