After 1,000 Miles Kaiser Races To The Wire

by Anna Rose MacArthur on March 15, 2016

Pete Kaiser pulling onto Front Street in Nome, minutes from crossing under the burled arch. (Photo courtesy of KNOM.)

Pete Kaiser pulling onto Front Street in Nome, minutes from crossing under the burled arch. (Photo courtesy of KNOM.)

The 1,000 mile Iditarod journey for Bethel musher Peter Kaiser came down to the wire, as he told KNOM in a finish line interview.

Kaiser placed fifth, crossing under the burled arch in Nome at 11:24 a.m. on Tuesday after racing 8 days, 20 hours, 24 minutes, and 55 seconds across the Alaska wilderness— two minutes behind Willow musher Wade Marrs.

“I could see him,” Kaiser said of Marrs, “but not close enough to talk.”

Marrs left the White Mountain checkpoint about a half hour before Kaiser, who gained on the elusive team to the end.

“He made me work really hard,” Marrs said of Kaiser, “and I don’t know how I stayed in front of him.”

Kaiser said he spent a long night kicking and ski-poling. Entering the finish line chute with 11 dogs, KNOM called his team energetic. Marrs topped that description, giving his opponent one of the sport’s highest praises.

“He’s got the best looking dog team in this race,” Marrs said. “They’re beautiful.”

Crossing the finish, Kaiser’s family enveloped the Bethel musher in hugs. Kaiser’s son Ari told his dad, “I missed you all day.”

“I missed you, too, all day,” Kaiser told his son, holding him throughout the finish line interviews.

This race marks Kaiser’s seventh Iditarod finish. He’s completed every Iditarod since 2010 and placed in the top 10 in three of those races. This year’s finish beats his fastest time set in 2011 by about 11 hours and ranks about 15 hours faster than when he last placed fifth in 2012.

“I was hoping to get back in the top ten and kinda hoping for a top five, too. So I can live with this for sure,” Kaiser said, standing under the burled arch in Nome.

Another Yukon Kuskokwim musher, Richie Diehl of Aniak, also set a personal record in this year’s race. Diehl finished twelfth at 5:42 p.m. on Tuesday after racing 9 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes, and 21 seconds.

His record comes despite an upset with his dog team.

Diehl told KSKA that his dogs had caught a virus and were showing symptoms less than 300 miles from Nome. At that point, Diehl said he didn’t want to push his team too hard for fear that the bug would grow and wipe them out.

Ultimately, Diehl finished the race with 10 dogs, besting his fastest time set in 2014 by about 13 hours and marking Diehl’s fourth Iditarod finish.

Listen to KNOM’s finish line interview with Pete Kaiser:

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0:00 KNOM describes Pete Kaiser’s team racing into the finish line chute.

1:18 KNOM interviews Wade Marrs at the finish line.

3:54 KNOM interviews Pete Kaiser at the finish line.

A previous version of this story said that Richie Diehl took his mandatory 24-hour layover in Galena. That information is incorrect. In 2016 Diehl took his 24-hour layover in Takotna. In 2015 Diehl took his 24-hour layover in Galena.

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