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Craig Medred

Only two years after a humbling defeat near the shores of the Bering Sea, grizzled Jeff King from the community of Denali Park in the heart of Alaska is poised to claim the crown as one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champions of all time.

On Monday, King waited out an eight-hour mandatory rest in the White Mountain checkpoint on the east side of the Topkok Hills about 80 miles from the race's finish line in Nome. He pulled in there with a lead of 57 minutes over Aily Zirkle of Two Rivers...

Craig Medred

As the leaders in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race sped west along the surface of the frozen Yukon River Friday in the quest to be first to Nome, there was a race of another sort going on almost 200 miles back in the upper reaches of the Innoko River country.

There, in a long-dead mining district known as the Inland Empire , a gaggle of teams at the tail end of the Iditarod pack were racing to survive...

Craig Medred

An unassuming Fairbanks cyclist by the name of Jeff Oatley has done the impossible on the Iditarod Trail from Knik to Nome. He rode his fat-tired bicycle into the Bering Sea community of 3,800 on Wednesday afternoon to beat the canines of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to town by days.

No other competitor in the Iditarod Trail Invitational -- a 1,000-mile, human-powered, ultra-endurance race across the Alaska wilderness -- has ever come close to accomplishing this feat.

Oatley didn't just do it, however, he did it in spectacular fashion. His finishing time of 10 days, 2 hours, 53 minutes took him out of the realm of competitors in previous Invitationals and into the realm of the big dogs in the Iditarod dog race...

Craig Medred

For almost four decades, contractor Sonny Lindner from the cold, Interior Alaska mushing community of Two Rivers -- a place which didn't really exist when he arrived in the 49th state in 1970 -- has yearned to win the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. This year he might have put himself in position for a shot at doing just that.

Lindner led the race into the Kuskokwim River community of McGrath on Tuesday. Two-time runner-up Aliy Zirkle from Two Rivers, a neighbor of Lindner's, blew on with some others in tow as Lindner rested in McGrath for a little more than five hours before resuming his pace, and eventually the lead...

Craig Medred

An 85-mile stretch of bad trail north of Rainy Pass in the Alaska Range may not decide who wins the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race this year, but it could well decide who doesn't.

When Kelly Maixner from Big Lake led the race into Rohn, a one-room, outpost cabin that serves as the checkpoint in the heart of the Alaska Range, he was riding on the wreckage of a smashed sled ...

Craig Medred

Lost in all the pre-race buzz surrounding the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race might be one of the greatest athletic feats in Alaska history.

Think about this: Willow's Dave Johnston just went from Knik to McGrath on foot in a little over four days towing a 30-pound sled of survival equipment along the snow-covered Iditarod Trail through the Alaska wilderness.

To cover the 350-mile distance, he had to average about 85 miles per day. Eighty-five miles breaks down into more than three marathons per day. And those marathons weren't run on a smooth surface...

Craig Medred

Somehow no one asked me to write one of those warm and cuddly essays for The Salmon Project . Maybe they just knew how I feel about what has become of first-person reportage in America in the new millennium where stimulation of one's ego is all the rage.

The self-important wastage of personal pronouns in the journalism of our day gets old fast. The simplest of observations seem to have been sacrificed on the altar of "I" saw, "I" heard, "I" smelled, "I" witnessed, "I" yadda, yadda, yadda.

But my distaste for that crap is unlikely why the Project avoided this reporter. More likely some of the people involved sensed what I might write...

Craig Medred

ROHN -- The angry whining sound you’re likely to hear deep in the Alaska Range early next week will come from a chorus of Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race mushers.

From the looks of the trail from Rainy Pass down to the Tatina River, it is unlikely anyone will make it through the gauntlet of rocks, roots, trees, ice, gravel, stumps, brush, and fragile ice bridges without a story to tell.

The skilled and lucky will survive. The unlucky may suffer broken sleds or worse...

Craig Medred

HAPPY RIVER -- As Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 winner Kevin Breitenbach from Fairbanks was rolling his fat-bike into McGrath at record-setting speed that would shame the dog team of 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Mitch Seavey, a man on foot back high in the Alaska Range was hard on the trail of another record. Nearing halfway in his own journey along the fabled Iditarod Trail, runner Dave Johnston from Willow was ahead of pace to beat a record many thought might stand forever. In 2004, Steve Reifenstuhl, a fisheries biologist from Sitka, covered the 350-miles of trail between Knik in 4 days, 15 hours. On a trail so primitive it is a stretch to call it a "trail'' in places, Reifenstuhl covered almost 80 miles per day....

Craig Medred

PERRIN'S RAINY PASS LODGE -- With a bright sun warming the Alaska Range mountains by day and the subzero cold of star-filled nights ensuring the glacial rigidity of the terrain below, two Alaska cyclists and an aging wheelman from Massachusetts rolled into and out of the remote checkpoint of Rohn to lead 350-mile Iditarod Trail Invitational north.

Behind them, 44 other cyclists and runners stretched back across the wilderness to a community along the Skwentna River so small it isn't even considered a town. It is the "census designated place" of Skwentna just upstream from Susitna Station, a long deserted riverboat stop on the Susitna River, north of Anchorage...

Craig Medred