Make it or Break it at White Mountain
Harriett Fenerty | Guest Writer
White Mountain, Last place for NB 8 hour Layover, NO SB Layover, NB Milepost 1,033 SB Milepost 1202
White Mountain is the checkpoint that seems like we are almost there there…..just 75 miles to the ½ way line and if a team makes it back to the SB checkpoint…..their old race-mode feeling kicks in.
This is a portion of the trail that Mother Nature rears her unbelievable competitive spirt into the race……blowing a constant frigid air, sometimes there is sea ice and sometimes not so much………river water sometimes flows too fast to let a layer of ice build, low snow coverage evaporates in the dry air conditions forcing racers to drive on tundra…..ground storms mean fierce white out conditions…..and sometimes when the wind is blowing in the opposite direction to keep the sea ice in place…..it gets blown off shore and opens the Golovin Bay and the remaining portion of trail to Nome or creating pressure ridged as big as most hills in the flatlands of Iowa.
When racers are having to deal with that “just get me to Nome” feeling…..their arms are burning tired….their grips have lost strength and are exhausted….still functioning on race adrenaline … the handle bars are bouncing over hard pack wind-blown partially covered ice, snow dirt trail….IF just one bump is taken wrong on this section…..catastrophe……broken skis, cartwheels, shocks blow into uselessness or get jammed in places they shouldn’t be…..tracks ripped, bogey wheels gone, and the clock is ticking…..for each stop a racer takes it means more time. There is some moving vehicle insurance data that says most accidents happen just ten miles from home…..that seems to be the situation during Iron Dog week too…..I have seen more races fall completely apart in the section between White Mountain and Nome.
Leader board quakes when the race is just 75 miles from Nome…..sometimes it has come down to seconds, sometime minutes…..either way…..these 75 miles are often Racer’s Make It or Break It Moment!!!!
The checkpoint has been manned by a whole bunch of folks, but the thing that comes to my mind is the wonderful technology that seems to come from White Mountain..they are fast to post pictures and video……I know of one event that happened last year where they let a trail class rider know his new baby had arrived, stopped to take a picture even…..The Iron Dog is lucky…..volunteers that so willingly share their skills…. from the fuel farm man, the photographers, the technical wizards, the trail breakers and the emergency medical staff….and the families that support them while they devote their free time to our event……Thank you!!!
On Tuesday, February 25, 2016 who will make it or break it @ White Mountain?
Photos courtesy of HLF, Luann Harrelson and Yorise Yakunin