It's 6.30pm Alaska time.
Aliy is out of McGrath and on her way to Takotna! We've seen and heard several interviews with her in Nikolai and you can almost hear the disbelief in her voice about how bad the trail was. Seeing photographs and video of her pulling out of Nikolai and in-and-out of McGrath it looks like her sled is in one piece and the dogs look terrific. The trail has snow which will make everyone happy.
I've stolen this pic from Sebastian Schnuelle of the team coming in to McGrath (click the pic to link to his story).
Aliy is driving a new sled this year - Allen made new sleds for them both this season and it is a testament to his sled-building skills that it looks to have held together. Good job Allen!
We are very happy and relieved that Allen and the Black Team are in to Nikolai! We've been willing him on all afternoon and we're all so pleased they have made it. You can guarantee he will have some great stories from that piece of trail and we're looking forward to hearing them and sharing some of them with you.
Those of you who have the opportunity to hear Allen tell trail stories will know what I mean. He can be describing a situation that will make your hair stand on end but he'll tell it in his laid-back southern drawl and a big smile that it will sound like nothing at all. Two of his favourite phrases are "there's always something" and "it's never easy" and he goes in to races knowing that. Boy, there was definitely "something" and it wasn't easy there today!
We still haven't heard anything about the dog dropped from Allen's team. With the number of teams that have scratched in Rohn and Rainy Pass there are now a large number of dogs that need to be flown back to Anchorage so it is likely to be tomorrow or even the next day before we get to pick them up. It could be that they fly them forward to McGrath where they can bring a larger plane back to Anchorage. We will just have to wait and see. At each checkpoint there are volunteers and vets who are prepared to care for dogs for as long as they are there so we know they will be in good hands.
Have you all seen Terrie Hanke's article about Aliy and Allen? It's a great read.