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The Weather Along Parts of the Iditarod will Dip as Low as Minus 55 Degrees

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Hi, ADN Iditarod fans,


Most mushers have now passed the Iditarod's halfway point, and while Travis Beals is the farthest along the trail at the checkpoint of Galena, it's still anybody's race. 


One factor that could complicate things: the deep, subzero cold forecast on the Yukon River and farther out along the Norton Sound coast, with wind chill temperatures plummeting as low as minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the coming days.

Iditarod racers are no strangers to cold. But during a long-distance race like this one, conditions that frigid can make everything a little more challenging. Air that cold can be harsh to breathe, and water freezes that much more quickly. Gear is prone to malfunction. Fingers and toes lose feeling quickly, making simple tasks harder to execute. Exposed skin can develop frostbite in as little as five minutes.


In addition to bracing for whatever Mother Nature throws their way, competitors are further honing their strategy.


We've written previously about how Nic Petit was making an unorthodox push all the way to the Ruby checkpoint before taking his mandatory 24-hour rest. It's paid off in at least one (delicious) way: For being the first musher to reach the Yukon River, Petit was awarded a gourmet meal cooked in Ruby by two Anchorage chefs. 


A ribeye with Gorgonzola truffle butter, Parmesan and rosemary potatoes, even a bottle of Champagne — it was a proper feast. His dogs got a chance to chow down as well, though their fare of horse meat, pork belly and water-soaked kibble was, perhaps, less highbrow by human standards.

Big Lake musher Nicolas Petit digs into the Parmesan rosemary fingerling potatoes that came with his ribeye steak with Gorgonzola truffle butter and sauteed Swiss chard. (Casey Grove / Alaska Public Media)


One checkpoint behind Petit, during his mandatory rest back at Cripple, Dallas Seavey on Thursday shared with reporters his take on the two-hour penalty that race officials issued to him for insufficiently gutting the animal under Iditarod rules. 


"I think the judges made the right call," he said.


In an earlier interview, Seavey told the Iditarod Insider that he had tunnel vision after shooting the moose and “just made terrible, shocked decisions, I guess, one after the next.” He said he wanted to apologize to his dogs, his fans and his competitors.


The penalty meant he couldn't leave Cripple until late last night. Still, his team is currently running in the front pack, trailing behind just two other mushers: Beals and Matt Hall.


On a lighter note, today is International Women's Day, and we wanted to take a moment to spotlight the 11 women running in this year's race and some of the legends who've come before them.