Its time to take a look at our rural racers, as the race approaches half way. I will take them mainly in the order they appear, starting with Aaron Burmeister. Rural you say? Of course he is. He spends a good share of his year in Nome and Kotzebue, he grew up in Nome, and he spends the rest of his time in Nenana, which is semi-rural.
Aaron is currently in front of the pack, and is making a strong move toward Huslia. I won’t call him the leader because I think Jeff King is right now, taking his 24 hour break in Galena. But Aaron is right up there, and has had good moving speeds throughout the race. He says things have not gone all that smoothly so far, yet there he is in front, so keep an eye on Aaron.
Next in line is Pete Kaiser, stopped in Galena apparently for his 24 hour. He will leave there well behind King, around 7 hours. That’s a lot of time to make up on a 4 time champion, but Pete had a real fast run into that checkpoint. Actually the fastest run into Galena was Paul Gebhardt and Pete was second fastest. I suspect part of that was a factor of the trail setting up after several teams went over it, and also the fact that those teams had a little extra rest from some of the teams that preceded them
Richie Diehl has quietly hung around the leaders and is about 3 hours behind Pete. He must still take both mandatory rests, and has been moving slower recently, but those rests could bring him back up a bit.
Katherine Keith is also in Galena, arriving five hours after Richie and moving a bit slower than him. She has taken her 8 hour break, and still must do her 24. She passed up her kennel partner John Baker who appears to be taking his 24 hour rest back in Ruby. John has had some good runs, and his history of moving up strongly in the latter part of the race might serve him well, especially if he has a hard fast trail out of Ruby from all the traffic ahead of him.
Our final rural team is Chuck Schaeffer who is on his way from Ruby to Galena having completed his 8 hour rest. Chuck is the lone rookie among the rural bunch, and he is the fourth ranked rookie right now.
Tomorrow night I will take a stab at naming the top three contenders, based not only on their position but also their speed and other secret factors.
Myron Angstman is a veteran of the Iditarod and past champion of the Kuskokwim 300 and John Beargrease sled dog races. He practices law in Bethel, Alaska. For more dog race stuff, check his website at angstmanlawoffice.com