KALTAG, Alaska — Jessie Royer dropped to 19th place in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday and conceded that getting her first win "just isn't in the cards this year."
Royer, who grew up in Ennis, pulled into Kaltag on the Yukon River at 8:29 a.m. (MST), dropping nine spots from Saturday.
"This race is as much mental as it is physical, lots of ups and downs," Royer texted 406mtsports.com late Sunday. "With most of thedogs on this year the same as last year's fifth-place team the competitor in me gets frustrated they are so flat this year. (But) the dog lover in me has to realize it isn't in the cards this year and just enjoy the dogs and being out here in this beautiful scenery."
Royer finished fifth a year ago and was two minutes off the best time ever recorded by a woman in the Iditarod, which began in 1973. She finished fourth in 2015.
Kaltag is 652 miles into the 998-mile race. From there, the mushers rise out of the Yukon River valley and head west to windy Unalakleet on the Bering Sea.
Royer arrived in Kaltag with 13 dogs and had to drop one. Last year, she finished with all 16.
Nicolas Petit of Girdwood, Alaska, continued to lead and left Unalakleet nearly an hour and a half ahead of second-place Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway and another hour up on defending champion Mitch Seavey of Seward, Alaska.
Great Falls rookie Brett Bruggeman was in 44th place in Grayling with 15 dogs.
"I go a little crazy going this slow so I have to really make myself stay upbeat," Royer texted. "If it was easy everyone would do it. I still enjoy the challenge and traveling with my best friends. Nome here we come!"