Usually by this stage of the Iditarod some trends have developed which would enable a seasoned analyst to pick out some early leaders. Not this year. A jammed pack of racers toward the front makes picking the leaders tough, and that is made worse by the fact that some faster moving teams are a bit back of the leaders by still well within range.
The Seaveys are in front as of this writing, but neither has taken control of the race. In fact the next racer in line Aaron Burmeister has a higher average traveling speed, which means he has gotten to the same spot in the race as the Seaveys with more rest. Several other teams are showing faster traveling speeds today, among them are Jeff King, Thomas Waerner, Pete Kaiser, Dee Jonrowe, Nathan Schroeder and Ken Anderson.
Complicating any prognostication at this point is the staggered start and various mandatory rests which must be taken. Until those rests are completed, comparisons of location are deceptive. For example Pete Kaiser started late in the field and has about a two hour handicap over early starters which will be given back to him during his 24 hour layover.
Today the GPS tracker went on the blink for a couple of hours, introducing recent Iditarod fans to the situation faced by fans in the early years of the race when reports were often very old by the time they reached rural Alaska. I used to call Iditarod headquarters for first hand updates, but they were sometimes outdated as well. Later I learned to tell them I was from the press, so that I would get the best information possible. I would say “This is Randall Simpson from the New York Times”, and that would usually get me the supervisor. Later on when the fax was introduced, I got on the every hour fax list from headquarters, and then all of the best race fans in Bethel would call me for an update. Of course the tracker has changed all of that, and going two hours without an update is a weird form of torture for the hard core fan.
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