Run times and on the trail observations seem to suggest that Dallas Seavey has emerged as the fastest team among the frontrunners. Note that he had the fastest time on that all important run into Takotna, which has often been a key to later success in the Iditarod. Pure speed often shows up well on the run down the Yukon River with decent trails and on most days a tail wind. But for some reason, the Baker team is just 10 miles behind him as I write, and still in a good position. I am not able to confirm this next thought by asking John, but I am confident that in the next day or two you will see him pull into a checkpoint behind the Seaveys, grab his food bag and keep on going. Already the speeds have become closer among those three teams, something that was predicted here a couple of days ago. When he pulls that move, he might catch the faster teams at a time when they are not ready to keep going and all of a sudden its a different race.
There are other teams who have moved up in the standings and are worth noting. Aaron Burmeister is a former Nome guy, and thus favored by rural guys like myself (this job does not require me to be impartial). He has apparently put together his best team and is moving well. Another rural guy, our home town Bethel hero Pete Kaiser, seems to have the fastest team in the top 20, and is also moving up. He has run carefully, stopping when the urge might have been to keep going. He might be too far back to win, but he has a good shot at the top five. And don’t rule out Jeff King either. He is moving well and not far behind. I haven’t mentioned Aliy Zirkle, who is actually out front right now. She has an 8 hour break yet to take, so her lead is temporary, but she is running her strongest Iditarod ever. Of course she can’t be counted out. And by the way, isn’t it wonderful that Alaska’s most famous sporting event allows women and men to compete equally? Because of the strong showing by women in this race over the years we have sort of taken that fact for granted, but it still is an oddity in big time sporting events.
Readers of this blog likely cruise the internet for other race information. If so you should check the website for Pete Kaiser. My son Andy is the guest blogger, and a quick check of that page will reveal that he knows more about this stuff than his father. http://kaiserracing.com/ Someone even tracked him down for a national radio interview which is posted on that page. The Kaisers and Bakers have a lot of typical rural Alaska connections, and one of the connections is that the Angstman family roots for both of them. Pete grew up in the Kuskokwim 300 family of races, and at this moment he is the pride of Bethel.