Here’s the news from the Tuluksak River checkpoint.
Under a beautiful starry sky and on the best trail conditions we’ve seen in some time, the folks at the Tuluksak checkpoint watched Bethel champion Pete Kaiser roll in with his team at about midnight tonight. Some of his dogs were still yanking on their tug lines after he set his hook. Richie Diehl and Matt Failor both arrived about 13 minutes later.
It was humbling to witness all those present look on with quiet reverence as the three contenders worked silently through their checkpoint routines. It reminded me of the feeling one gets when attending an NYO competition or a Yup’ik feast. There was definitely a sense of pride for the region and the race. It was a memorable moment I won’t soon forget.
It’s been a great weekend at the Tuluksak checkpoint! We have a solid volunteer crew here all managing their roles with enthusiasm.
I would like to take the opportunity to recognize some of these dedicated folks without whom none of this would be possible.
Quyana to the following checkers: Alana Chronister, Cat Casey, Julia Rodriquez, and Nick Martinez.
Thanks for standing out in the cold all hours of the night and day checking the mushers through and getting stats into headquarters in a timely manner. Thank you also for reaching out to the local kids by answering the plethora of questions that come your way and even teaching them magic card tricks. You rock!
Quyana to the following cooks: Rachelle and Bob White, Michael Vicente, Twyla Eldhart, Justine Chamberlin, and Lindsey Wagner.
Thanks for all you do to serve up the best chow on the Kuskokwim River! Seriously, this is homemade food worth waiting an entire year for. We all appreciate your kitchen love, service, and graceful presence. It makes the checkpoint like home. Special thanks to Michael for sharing his first catch moose. This note posted on a napkin near the kitchen window pretty much sums it up, “Breakfast served at 8 AM! @ then the food won’t stop.” It doesn’t.
Quyana to the following vets and vet students: Jessica Klejka, Laurie Meythaler-Mullins, Roxy Alfalo, and Angela Molli
Thank you for volunteering your time and providing excellent professional care to our dog athletes. Your contribution is important and invaluable. A special shout out to Jessica for trucking up from Bethel both Friday and Saturday night after working at her clinic all day. We love you, Jessica! Also... thank you Joe Klejka for helping get dropped dogs back to Bethel sooner rather than later.
Quyana to the following Alaska Army National Guard volunteers: CPT Tollefson, MSG King, SFC Ventura, SSG Sallaffie, SSG Wilson, SSG Wilbanks, SGT Andrew, SPC Thompson, and PV2 Andrew.
I can’t say enough how valuable you are to the workings of the checkpoint. Every year we lean heavily on you for service and support. It’s so nice to be able to count on you to move straw and food bags, pack hot water for mushers, keep an eye on things down at the river, and take on other tasks that arise during the weekend. The checkpoint would be much more difficult to run without your solid commitment.
We definitely hope to see you again next year.
Quyana to the fine people of Tuluksak.
Thank you for being such gracious hosts. The school staff always goes above and beyond to provide accommodations and assistance for the checkpoint crew. They include Kary DelSignore, Mary Long, Daphne Matz, Evelyn Esmailka, and Matthew Brown. Special thanks to Jerah Peter for all your help parking teams and trucking dogs to the airport. One of my favorite things about this checkpoint is to witness the constant vigil of residents glued to the tracker and cheering mushers on.
Finally, I would like to thank our fearless leader, Myron Angstman. Thanks for being advisor, historian extraordinaire, and great storyteller.
That’s all from Tuluksak.
Kuskokwim pride forever!