Baltimore's Dent is hitting ice homestretch

14 mushers still racing

banker could finish today

Iditarod

March 19, 2000|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

Baltimore's Dan Dent made it across the ice-covered Bering Sea in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and could reach the finish line in Nome, Alaska, sometime today.

Dent, a 58-year-old investment banker, is in 62nd place in the 1,151-mile race from Anchorage to Nome. Fifty-four teams have completed the race, and 13 of the original field of 81 have dropped out, leaving 14 mushers on the course. The winner, Doug Swingley, finished Tuesday.

Dent and his team of 14 huskies negotiated the treacherous 50-mile leg from Shaktoolik to Koyuk in a little less than six hours. After a seven-hour rest, Dent left Koyuk late Friday night and took nearly seven hours to travel 48 miles to the next checkpoint, at Elim.

Late yesterday, Dent was en route from Elim to White Mountain, a 46-mile stretch. White Mountain is less than 80 miles from the finish.

Dent left Elim before 11 a.m. yesterday, Alaska time, about the same time as Bill McKee and Trisha Kolegar. Those three and James Wheeler, all rookie mushers, had been traveling together on the icy stretch from Shaktoolik to Koyuk.

McKee pulled ahead of the other three and reached the White Mountain checkpoint late yesterday, six hours after leaving Elim.

Shortly past Elim, there is another short stretch of sea ice, followed by a turn inland and an ascent along the Kwiktalik Mountains. That is followed by a rapid descent toward Golovnin Bay and on to the minor checkpoint at Golovin. It is usually a three- to four-hour trip, but windy conditions along the higher elevations could slow the mushers.

Most mushers who stop at Golovin stay only a short time. It's 18 miles to the next major checkpoint at White Mountain. That leg is less difficult, with a mostly straight 10-mile stretch and the remainder along the Fish River.

From White Mountain, the next leg is a 55-mile stretch to Safety. The trail notes posted on the Iditarod Web site (www.iditarod.com) say this "can be one of the most dangerous stretches on the race when the wind blows or a storm hits," but if the weather is decent, mushers can expect "a five- to eight-hour run."

The final leg is 22 miles from Safety to Nome.

The weather forecast for the area from Koyuk to Nome calls for temperatures from the teens to mid-20s, with light winds and a chance of light snow.

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