The 119-mile stretch of trail between Tanana and Ruby might be long, but it wasn't lonely.
As mushers left the Tanana checkpoint, many pondered how they would break up the run. Not even experienced racers will attempt to make the journey in one long run at this point in the race, so the decision of when to break it up -- and where to camp -- was the topic of many a conversation among mushers.
But many found an oasis at the Kokrine Hills Bible Camp about 65 miles north of Tanana -- almost exactly halfway between the two checkpoints. There, Carole Huntington and her husband Roger opened their home at the camp to mushers making the long haul between the two towns.
Carole Huntington said at around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning her home filled with top competitors -- Aliy Zirkle, Mitch Seavey, DeeDee Jonrowe and Aaron Burmeister, among others -- who boiled their food in water pots she kept on her wood stove and drank coffee. On Wednesday evening, Huntington, 71, couldn't count how many mushers had passed through her cabin.
Jeff King was the first musher to reach Galena, and was awarded $3500 and a five-course meal.