Teams are through McGrath

Aliy Zirkle has checked through the McGrath checkpoint and is still going. She has been leading for quite some time. John Baker is on her heels. We should start to see teams take their 24’s at some point. Takotna is a popular spot (It’s all about the Pies!!)

Team Kaiser is running in about 15th place give or take. He’s about 20 miles or 2 hours off the front lead teams at this point, but there’s alot to go as we are only just now reaching the 250-275 milemarkers in the race.

Go Team Kaiser!

Bethany alerted me to a video on the Insider showing John Baker. In the background is our favorite musher calmly doing chores and resting his dogs. John seemed pleased with his team’s performance. Warm weather is a bit more stressful to teams, but makes for easy work at the checkpoints.

By this time tomorrow night we will undoubtedly be seeing a lull in the action as teams take their 24 hour layovers, but the race is on at this point to see where folks stack up and how fast they get into the rest mode.


Some thoughts on the Race as Team Kaiser Leaves Nikolai

Team Kaiser is just now leaving Nikolai and appears to be sticking to a pretty strict regimen of rest run periods.

I just got these thoughts from Andy Angstman, who has run the Iditarod in the past and part of the Angstman Dog Dynasty here in Bethel. Well worth reading:

This morning I, like many other race observers, tried to unravel the mystery of run-times from Rohn to Nikolai.  Some of the more obvious time-discrepancies were easily decipherable, especially if you noticed that Aliy Zirkle, Jeff King, and others camped out late last night near the exit of the Alaska Range by Egypt Mountain (there’s a usually-open creek that offers a good campsite there).  Aliy’s time on that run was 13 hours and 48 minutes, compared to John Baker’s run of 9 hours and 55 minutes.  Obviously, John ran basically straight through.

But further down the standings, I noted some rather remarkable differences in times not accounted for by stopping on the 70+ mile haul to Nikolai.  Take, for instance, the case of Pete Kaiser and Tom Thurston.  Pete left Rohn at 3:13 AM, and arrived 9 hours and 32 minutes later in Nikolai.  Tom left Rohn at 5:00 AM, and beat Pete to Nikolai by two minutes!  How is this possible?  Well, the Iditarod requires that every musher sign in to a checkpoint, but nobody has to sign out.  This morning, Iditarod race headquarters probably asked the Rohn checker what time Tom Thurston left last night.  The likely response?  “Oh, about 5:00 AM.”  Rohn at 5:00 AM is dark, crowded, and busy.  It is easy to imagine that a number of teams slipped out in the night without a checker getting an accurate time into the book.  Tom will be able to look back at his run across the burn as possibly the greatest highlight of his mushing career: 7 hours 43 minutes!  Don’t believe everything that you read.

This is why the run from Nikolai to a team’s 24 hour layover is so telling.  We DO get fairly accurate departure times from the checkers in Nikolai and McGrath, especially in the daylight, with more checker help (because these checkpoints are more accessible), and because the teams are starting to spread out more.

As a final thought, I am constantly baffled by the red line that is purported to be the race trail on the Iditarod Insider/GPS Tracker page.  The line was clearly drawn in a cursory, abbreviated fashion.  Teams are usually nowhere near the red line, and a lot of casual race fans are left scratching their heads.  A few years ago, I was asked to draw a similar red line on a Google Earth map of the Kuskokwim 300 trail.  Counting the Whitefish Loop, that meant tracing over about 200 miles of trail before it doubled back on itself at Kalskag.  I zoomed in as close as the resolution would allow and went mile by mile, trying to accurately trace the portages, tundra trails, and slough crossings as I remembered them after running the Kusko three times.  It took me about two hours.  I would hope the Iditarod Insider could hire a veteran to do the same with their race map.

Into Nikolai

GPS show Pete into Nikolai. Anticipate a short rest here. I will be curious to see his trail time as the ones that left last night to push on for Nikolai have pretty long times over the trail and I didn’t see them rest. If they did, they won’t have had water etc that is available in the checkpoint.

Let’s see how that strategy pays out…