Duluthian Gunnar Johnson Finishes Storm Torn Kobuk 440
Gunnar Johnson announced on his Facebook page that he finally finished the Alaskan sled dog race.
Gunnar hadn't finished the Iditarod because of COVID and it was recommended he find one more race before the end of the season as closer to the season. So, he chose the Kobuk 440.
The race started late because he was waiting for the weather to clear enough to get in a plane and fly to the start of the race. A blizzard hit the area and they had to postpone the start until all the racers and officials could make it in to start the race.
Then they started the race and Gunnar's Facebook page reported they came up against some tough conditions and then the K440 Race Association decided to redirect mushers bound for Kobuk toward Ambler, Alaska, omitting the pass through Shungnak and the Kobuk loop.
Then there was a huge blizzard again so they pulled the mushers off the course and brought them back to a mandatory stop until the weather could blow past. After restarting, the teams then got to the next mandatory 8-hour rest with some slight weather.
I'm sure you are seeing what a rough race this was becoming. Most of the mushers were just wanting to finish and not hurt the dogs. On the 4th of April, the officials were reporting Sam Brewer and Gunnar Johnson had made it to Ambler. They said there were two mushers remaining on the trail between Kiana and Ambler. Philip Hanke's tracker showed him at the Kobuk Valley Portage Emergency Shelter Cabin.
Now you are seeing how hard the race was with the weather. They were in Ambler and planning a restart after the weather made them hold. They said the race restart will be at around 2 am on April 5th. Mushers leave in order of original arrival times at Ambler's first pass. The race has been rerouted down the Kobuk River, back through Kiana and Noorvik to Kotzebue.
The mushers were given another hold for 8 hours so they could rest and they lightened up on the instructions and were told they could rest. With the restart at 5 am, Gunnar crossed the finish line at just after 3:30 pm. Congrats Gunnar and all the other racers for a hard-fought race.