Pete and Richie were out, right on time, at 18:59, of the McGrath checkpoint and their 24 hour layover.
They are just through Takotna, which although it isn’t a checkpoint, allows us to gauge their speeds against Teams traveling in front of them. Overall, they both are just a few minutes faster than pretty much everyone in front.
Tonight the trail will take them towards Ophir and then hang a left South towards the Iditarod Checkpoint and the halfway point of the race. I am expecting them to break the 121 mile run into two sections, which will mean camping on the trail tonight.
Weather in the area is expected to be pretty chilly, with temperatures in the mid -20 to -30 degrees. Unfortunately wind tonight is also an issue. Generally interior cold weather is accompanied by still air, but tonight winds in McGrath is 10-15 mph. This doesn’t sound like much, but with such cold temperatures it will lower the windchill into the -40’s and below.
The good news is a cold trail can harden the trail and make it a bit faster. For a great detail of the race route, visit the Iditarod Description here.
This is one of the emptiest legs on the entire race, a full 90 miles of lonely country and endless trail. — Iditarod Description of Ophir to Iditarod
Consider that as empty as this route is for Teams, they will have to do it twice. It is going to be easily the most mind challenging stretch of trail. 180 miles with one checkpoint in the middle. Tonight will be the easy part. Coming back, sleep deprived mushers will face the mental challenges that only a long distance dogsled musher can relate. Hence the term, “mile and miles of miles…”
See ya in the morning!
Go Team Kaiser!!