Bitter winds delay winner's welcome in Nome

Mike Campbell
Dallas Seavey and his team drive over the hill country between Unalakleet and Shaktoolik on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.
Jeff King leads the way for his team, one of which got tripped up in the lines, as he leaves the Shaktoolik checkpoint on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.
Jeff King leads the way for his team, one of which got tripped up in the lines, as he leaves the Shaktoolik checkpoint in strong wind on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.
Jeff King, foreground, and John Baker depart the Shaktoolik checkpoint of the Iditarod on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.
Jeff King mixes feed at the Shaktoolik checkpoint shortly before he left there on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.
Hugh Neff rests inside the Unalkleet checkpoint after being the third Iditarod musher to arrive on Monday, March 16, 2009.
Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News
After filling up with coffee, John Baker heads out of the checkpoint room in Shaktoolik preparing to head out of the coastal town on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.
John Baker heads out of Shaktoolik on Monday afternoon, March 16, 2009.

Brutal winds that have slowed the 37th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to a crawl and forced some mushers to quit have pushed back the estimated finish time.

Don't expect the winner on Front Street in Nome before noon Wednesday.

Two-time defending champion Lance Mackey pulled out of Elim, about 120 miles from the finish line, at 10:57 a.m. this morning. Next up is a 30-mile trek to Golovin and a shorter 20-mile run to White Mountain.

There, like all racers, Mackey must take an eight-hour rest before making the final 80-mile push to Nome.

If Mackey arrives in White Mountain by 5 this afternoon, he can't leave until 1 a.m. Wednesday. Then, if he averages a little more than 6 mph over the final stretch, it will take 12 hours -- putting the Fairbanks musher in Nome about 1 p.m. Wednesday.

As has already been amply demonstrated, weather can slow any musher -- and there are places along that final stretch such as the notorious Solomon Blowhole that tend to funnel wind and cause mushers grief.

Sebastian Schnuelle and John Baker, running second and third out of Koyuk, left that checkpoint just before 6 a.m. today for the 48-mile run to Elim.

Photos: Day 10
Video: Mackey leaves Unalakleet in the lead
Photos: Day 9
Live standings: Musher leaderboard
By MIKE CAMPBELL
mcampbell@adn.com