Good Morning Race Fans!
My predictions last night were a little bold to be sure and Teams are splitting the run over the Farewell Burn into two runs. It’s a cold one out on the trail and as the sun just breaks, the temperatures will fall to close to -30 degrees below zero or lower. McGrath is reporting -33F. It’s what we would call “Dead Calm” in Nikolai though, so thankfully the winds have subsided. It was a beautiful night with a full moon last night and the sunrise should be breathtaking. Just the sound of the Team, the runners, and the beauty of the trail going by. Mushers are a bit tired at this point, so they may not notice it so much. The droning of the trail over this long section after a long night is probably a bit brutal them mentally, but that is the deal- Sleep deprivation is part of the fun!! Haha! – Says me sitting on my easy chair 🙂
Pete’s best buddy Richie Diehl is having a great race! Each year there is a jackrabbit to follow into Nikolai and this year it is Real Diehl Racing. At this hour (8:30am) Richie has about a 1 hour 20 minute lead over Pete and the Team. Over the night Richie increased his lead about 30 minutes after a bit shorter break.
This video shows the action of the evening. Richie leading onto the Farewell burn and taking a break followed by Aaron Burmeister and Pete and Lance Mackey. Current video shows a bunch of Teams all together, but they all have varying rest “in the tank” so it will be interesting to see if they break or make all the way for Nikolai. It is very early still in the race, so Team maintenance is key to a successful run on the coast. Pete will be as conservative as he can be while keeping the front Teams in sight. Jeff King’s philosophy is “the fastest slow you can go” is the strategy to win. Basically to conserve Team energy and also their mental state. A tired Team isn’t a happy Team and that is the prime focus of any race– Happy Healthy Dogs.
Currently we are several hours behind last year’s pace. As it stands I’m seeing Richie into Nikolai close to 11am this morning. Last year, Joar Leifseth-Ulsom was first into the Kuskokwim River checkpoint at 6:36am. It will be interesting to compare last year’s trail time to this year. Much of the loss of time came in the first part of the race, but the Upper Kuskokwim river and Rural Alaska as a whole got way more snow than we have seen in many years. Who knows what changes this will make to the trail.
We also haven’t heard any moose stories yet, but freight traffic has been curtailed on the trail because there are so many moose around. In deep snow conditions, moose like to walk on the trail because it’s easier and running into a moose with a Team is the last thing a Musher wants to do. I’m sure we’ll be hearing about that effect soon.
Mushing weather for today-
Sunny. Highs around 3 above. Light winds.
Mostly clear. Lows 16 to 29 below. Light winds.
It’s another great race, so stay tuned!
Go Team Kaiser!!
Here’s some “Aliy Cam” footage on the trail to Nikolai