Takotna Kitchen from a few years back. Looks like our friend Warren Palfrey in this photo.
Good Morning Race Fans! 8am comes early when waiting for your favorite Team to arrive into McGrath! Sue Gamache and Zack Fairbanks physically at the checkpoint and Emerie Fairbanks and I by proxy at the computer! Eyelids are a bit heavy this morning for sure 🙂
Pete and the Team arrived into Takotna at 3:39 this morning where I am pretty confident that they are taking their 24 hour layover. Richie was about an hour and 15 minutes or so ahead of them. They will get a chance to breathe a bit, relax and chat with the fairly large group of fellow mushers also on their break.
This day of the race is always very interesting as we get to see several different strategies play out over the day. By tomorrow evening, everyone will have taken their layover and will all be on the same schedule, but today there are 3 real strategies a work.
1. Push Hard – Rest Early
Martin Buser and Mike Williams Jr. have pushed hard to Nikolai and taken their 24 hour layover there. This will put them on the trail this morning on the trail to the two 8 hour layovers of the Yukon and the Coast.
2. Rest at McGrath or Takotna
Many mushers have taken their layovers in these checkpoints for years. They have sleds prepositioned and they know the facilities are downright homey. Pete and Richie have always taken their breaks here.
3. Push Long – Rest Later
We are seeing this strategy play out today with at least 5 mushers moving towards Cripple or even possibly Ruby. John Baker and a few mushers are camped out in Ophir, but Jeff King, Aaron Burmeister, and others are pushing North to the fast trail of the Yukon. These mushers are working a strategy of taking their 24 hour break closer to the actual midpoint in the race.
All of these strategies would have different outcomes if weather were any where near a factor in this year’s race, but it doesn’t look like it. If your strategy plays out in such a way that you miss or get hit by a storm that slows you down, then it pays different dividends. In this year’s race though, the weather outlook until Tuesday from McGrath up through Unalakleet and into Nome is fairly similar: North wind, especially on the coast, Temperatures 0-15, and good visibilities- A perfect Non-Storm!
It is great fun to watch what happens and see how it plays out for later in the race. Will the teams that rested early do as well as those that rested later? Watch and see, but its going to be great fun to watch from the armchair! As things are going, it is evident, that even with the brutal trail into Nikolai, times are at a record pace for even the top 10 mushers.
Unfortunately that doesn’t bode well for the Team Kaiser Pit Crew as our tickets into Nome are Tuesday evening. The world is converging on Nome for the Finish– Its going to be a great one, but could be Tuesday morning at this pace.