Pete Kaiser of Bethel wins Iditarod XLVII
Wind-driven snow blowing through Front Street and the late hour did not keep throngs of Iditarod fans from coming to the finish line as Bethel’s Pete Kaiser, 31, became the 2019 Iditarod champion at 3:39 a.m. Wednesday.
To the drumming and singing of the Nome St. Lawrence Island drummers and dancers, an emotional scene unfolded when Kaiser’s eight dogs trotted up the finish chute and stopped, tails wagging, under the burled arch. Kaiser pumped his arms, and before setting the hook, fell into a long embrace with his partner Bethany and their two children Ari and Aylee. Wiping away tears, Kaiser made his way to the dog team and kneeled down with his lead dogs Morrow and Lucy for a hug and a silent Thank You, while the crowd was roaring “Pete, Pete, Pete.”
A large contingent of Bethel residents had hopped on regular and chartered flights to be here when it looked like Kaiser becoming the first Bethel musher to claim an Iditarod victory. The large group lined the finish chute. Kaiser went into the crowd for hugs and tears of joy flowed freely.
His win was a close one.
Kaiser finished the race in nine days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and six seconds. A mere 12 minutes and 18 seconds later, last year’s champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom arrived under the burled arch, also with eight dogs in harness.
With their dog teams parked next to each other, Kaiser and Ulsom shook hands and exchanged warm smiles.