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It was just after 3:00am Thursday when the Iditarod sled dog team run by veteran musher Linwood Fiedler arrived at their checkpoint in Ruby, Alaska – without their human!
Linwood arrived in Ruby about an hour later, explaining that he’d fallen asleep and rolled off his sled and onto the frozen Yukon River. “I was asleep until the moment my face hit the river,” he said, realizing what had happened too late to call his dogs to stop running. Thankfully, the mild-mannered, well-trained pups just continued on to the checkpoint where fellow racers looked after them until Linwood arrived.
The section of race that ends at the checkpoint in Ruby is a notoriously boring 120-mile stretch of flat trail, making it hard to stay awake. Linwood told Anchorage television station KTUU that he’d been fighting to stay awake. “I was doing a pretty good job, and then I lost,” he said, laughing.”
Very happy to be reunited with his dogs, Linwood said, “you feel a little alone and naked walking down the Yukon River all by yourself in the middle of the night, looking at wolf tracks …”
Fiedler is still in the race, currently in 27th place, after leaving Ruby at 11:37 a.m.