Lindner's plan: Mush to Nome, retire from Iditarod

Casey Grove
Musher Mike Ellis, from Two Rivers, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle gets a kiss from her husband and fellow Iditarod musher Allen Moore as she prepares to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 P.M. during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, leaves the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Marte Brekke and Therese Neff, from Norway, have their photo made with Dick Newton, ADN Iditarod Hall of Fame member, the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Brekke has been staying in a cabin outside of Takotna for 6 months hunting and enjoying the wilderness.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, works on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, winces as she gets up while working on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Anna Berington passes through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Flags representing the nations of the foreign mushers in the race fly at the side of the trail.
Bob Hallinen
Frankie Sayer stands on the brake of Iditarod musher Charley Bejna, from Addison, IL, sled at the Takotna checkpoint while Bejna goes through his drop bags during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Bejna went through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Robert Sorlie, from Hurdal, Norway, sports a golden necklace at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sorlie was given the necklace by a little girl in the chute at the start of the race in Willow, AK.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, gets a dipper of hot water to dump in his dog food cooler at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Neff blew through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nathan Schroeder, from Chisholm, MN, rubs ointment into LoopÍs leg at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Scott Janssen rubs a bruised arm while wearing a boot for his broken foot on Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Some gear is now home as Iditarod musher Scott Janssen begins his recuperation from a concussion and a broken foot Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Curt Perano, from Central Otago, New Zealand, massages Block at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Robert Bundtzen, from Anchorage, AK, removes his dog team's booties after arriving at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
A pile of dog booties lies on the snow near the Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Ray Redington, Jr. and Race Marshal Mark Nordman watch a GoPro video of musher Jeff King running his team through the Dalzell Gorge at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Marianne Mallory, from Chugiak, AK, chops firewood at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Mallory is a junior musher and hopes to run the Jr. Iditarod next year.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Monica Zappa looks for dry long underwear in her sled bag at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow drives his dog team into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Philip Esei and his wife Doris Esei talk to visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Philip Esei runs Silver Tip Guide service out of Nikolai, the last of the three guiding services that were in Nikolai. Esei is a hunting guide for everything except mountain goats.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow is all smiles as he arrives coming into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai checker Marty Runkle points out the lay of the land of the checkpoint to Alex Buetow as he arrives at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before, his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn, except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
One of John DixonÕs team dogs looks back at the musher after they arrived at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
A musher drives his team through the spruce forest between the McGrath and Takotna checkpoints during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Flash, a team dog for musher Mike Williams Jr., rests on his bed of straw at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Williams Jr. sits on his dog sled as he changes batteries in his headlamp at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Phil Runkle brings an armful of wood to the water heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall gets hot water from the wood fired heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall talks about helping out a musher on the Farewell Burn with a broken ankle at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Oline Petruska, Tyler Alexia and Stephanie Petruska wait by the wood fired hot water for mushers to come in at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai resident Oline Petruska, talks with visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Ellis, from Two Rivers, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle gets a kiss from her husband and fellow Iditarod musher Allen Moore as she prepares to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 P.M. during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, leaves the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Marte Brekke and Therese Neff, from Norway, have their photo made with Dick Newton, ADN Iditarod Hall of Fame member, the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Brekke has been staying in a cabin outside of Takotna for 6 months hunting and enjoying the wilderness.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, works on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, winces as she gets up while working on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Anna Berington passes through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Flags representing the nations of the foreign mushers in the race fly at the side of the trail.
Bob Hallinen
Frankie Sayer stands on the brake of Iditarod musher Charley Bejna, from Addison, IL, sled at the Takotna checkpoint while Bejna goes through his drop bags during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Bejna went through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Robert Sorlie, from Hurdal, Norway, sports a golden necklace at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sorlie was given the necklace by a little girl in the chute at the start of the race in Willow, AK.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, gets a dipper of hot water to dump in his dog food cooler at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Neff blew through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nathan Schroeder, from Chisholm, MN, rubs ointment into LoopÍs leg at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Scott Janssen rubs a bruised arm while wearing a boot for his broken foot on Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Some gear is now home as Iditarod musher Scott Janssen begins his recuperation from a concussion and a broken foot Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Curt Perano, from Central Otago, New Zealand, massages Block at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Robert Bundtzen, from Anchorage, AK, removes his dog team's booties after arriving at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
A pile of dog booties lies on the snow near the Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Ray Redington, Jr. and Race Marshal Mark Nordman watch a GoPro video of musher Jeff King running his team through the Dalzell Gorge at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Marianne Mallory, from Chugiak, AK, chops firewood at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Mallory is a junior musher and hopes to run the Jr. Iditarod next year.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Monica Zappa looks for dry long underwear in her sled bag at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow drives his dog team into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Philip Esei and his wife Doris Esei talk to visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Philip Esei runs Silver Tip Guide service out of Nikolai, the last of the three guiding services that were in Nikolai. Esei is a hunting guide for everything except mountain goats.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow is all smiles as he arrives coming into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai checker Marty Runkle points out the lay of the land of the checkpoint to Alex Buetow as he arrives at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before, his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn, except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
One of John DixonÕs team dogs looks back at the musher after they arrived at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
A musher drives his team through the spruce forest between the McGrath and Takotna checkpoints during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Flash, a team dog for musher Mike Williams Jr., rests on his bed of straw at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Williams Jr. sits on his dog sled as he changes batteries in his headlamp at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Phil Runkle brings an armful of wood to the water heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall gets hot water from the wood fired heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall talks about helping out a musher on the Farewell Burn with a broken ankle at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Oline Petruska, Tyler Alexia and Stephanie Petruska wait by the wood fired hot water for mushers to come in at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai resident Oline Petruska, talks with visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen

RUBY -- Using a headlamp as he prepped his team before dawn Friday, Sonny Lindner waited for his 24-hour layover to expire and chatted with locals. His construction company, Johnson River Enterprises, remodeled the village school here last summer.

Lindner said he planned to take only one long break on the Yukon before Unalakleet and the Norton Sound coast, other than stops to feed the dogs along the way.

"We'll see how that works," Lindner said, walking from dog to dog, his boots crunching in the snow.

It minus-15 with a slight breeze. The sky just barely started to lighten over the Yukon River.

Jeff King and Lindner surprised some race watchers by mushing all the way to the Yukon before taking their mandatory 24-hour layover. Lindner said he had thought about going farther until experiecing the roughness of the Dalzell Gorge and Farewell Burn, which knocked many teams out of the race.

"Looking back at it, to have given 'em a rest right after that might've been better," he said. "I wasn't prepared to do that, but just after the kind of run we had -- I mean, I got through there in one piece, but I had a couple sore dogs a day or two later."

The huskies look fine now, Lindner said.

"It was real nice just traveling along," he said. "There weren't a lot of teams. Kind of out there by ourself. It was nice."

Lindner confirmed rumors that he planned to retire from sled dog racing after getting to Nome.

"Oh yeah. I am retired," he said. "I'm going to be more retired shortly. Gotta give these young guys a chance to do this more."

"Are you going to go out with a bang?" he was asked.

"You mean explode or what? Catch fire?" Linder said, smiling and chuckling.

"No, not literally. I mean do you have a shot at winning it?"

"I just want to be there," he said. "I guess I want to be there fast."

Parked next to Lindner was Nicolas Petit, the 2011 Rookie of the Year. As Lindner's departure time approached, Petit hustled to throw away trash and shove a few items in his sled bag before his eight-hour layover ended.

"Am I late yet?" Petit asked race official Raine Hall.

"No, you got one minute," Hall said.

Petit, as always, asked his dogs if they were ready and whistled to them. The dogs stood up. Petit looked back to where his gear had been on the snow.

"I better take my parka," he said, running back to get the coat he'd forgotten, then letting his dogs pull him down a hill to the river and out of town.

Dash and dine

Jeff King's decision to run all the way to Ruby before taking his 24-hour layover created a scramble to get everything in place for the gourmet meal served to the first musher to reach the Yukon River.

King arrived at 6:41 a.m. Thursday. It wasn't dinnertime, of course, so it wasn't until a little after 5 p.m. that chef Bobby Sidro, with race sponsor Millenium Alaskan Hotel, served up dinner for King and Raine Hall, the former Iditarod executive director and Ruby resident.

On the menu, along with wine and champagne pairings:

• Sablefish and blue mussel stew and king crab Cajun bruschetta with cream cheese, chives, shallots, garlic and seasonings.

• Baby arugula and smoked spotted shrimp salad with toasted pine nuts, sliced avocado, grated parmesan cheese, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts and champagne vinaigrette dressing.

• Peppercorn-crusted filet mignon and fried oysters on a cabernet sauce, with sockeye salmon lox and caviar potato pancakes, baby carrots and zucchini flowers.

• Roasted pear crème brulee tart.

As King and Hall finished the filet, they applauded the chef.

"Where did you go to school?" King asked.

"Nowhere," Sidro said, adding that he started with chef Al Levinsohn of the Kincaid Grill.

"Will you come to moose camp with us?" King asked.

Later, Sidro said he has worked for the Millenium "on and off" for about 20 years. It was his first time in Ruby, said Sidro, who flew to Anvik last year, when the race used the southern route.

Flyi in small planes has made him nervous, though, to the point he passes out, Sidro said.

Working in front of TV cameras and onlookers, including his boss, adds a bit of pressure to the occasion, Sidro said.

"It scares me more than the plane," he said.

Ramey Smyth's streak ends

Willow musher Ramey Smyth, a perennial contender who notched five consecutive top-10 finishes in a row before falling to 20th place in 2013, is out of the 2014 Iditarod.

Race officials say Smyth, 38, scratched at 1:50 p.m. today in Ruby. Down to 12 dogs, he told checkpoint volunteers "that he had an illness in his team and was concerned for the welfare of his dogs," according to a race spokeswoman.

Known for his turbo-charged finishes, Smyth placed third in the 2012 race and second in 2011, posting the second-fastest ever Iditarod finish behind record-breaking John Baker of Kotzebue.

John Dixon of Fairbanks, back in the race for the first time since his 2000 rookie run, also scratched Friday.

Fifteen mushers are out of the race, leaving a field of 54.

 

Complete Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race coverage
By CASEY GROVE
casey.grove@adn.com