Two teams seem to be in the running for the top spot in 2012. Dallas Seavey and Aliy Zirkle are the only two out of Koyuk as of this report, and time is running out quickly for anyone else to give chase. Seavey seems to have the edge in speed, but this run, possibly straight through to White Mountain, will tell the story. In the early going, Zirkle seems to be hanging tough about one mile back, a slight gain in the first hour. Its been a while since a woman won this race, and a lot of folks would like to see Zirkle pull it off.
There has been some juggling behind these two. Aaron Burmeister and John Baker have held third and fourth for a while, but Pete Kaiser has moved into fifth with a speedy team that has moved up steadily. Another rising team is Ramey Smyth, who reached Koyuk right after Mitch Seavey in seventh place. He will likely pass Mitch today.
Sebastian Schneulle reports from Koyuk that Baker can’t seem to get his team cranked up the way he would like at this stage of the race. His report on Ramey Smyth is worth reading on facebook. Smyth has a different style than most Iditarod racers. The modern drivers are normally well equipped with high tech equipment. Not Smyth. I saw his sled at the Willow starting line. It included two pieces of birch, branches cut from trees and trimmed with an axe, which were lashed to the sled as replacement parts for railings that had broken. He said the rough repairs were stronger than the original pieces. For dog coats he uses old woolen blankets draped completely over the dogs. He was one short in Koyuk so he used his parka for the last dog. Sebastian pointed out that Smyth had sick dogs at Nicolai, and was 30th team into Takotna. His advance into the top ten is very typical-he almost always comes on strong at the end of the race.
Sebastian also reports that the teenagers in Koyuk were taken with Dallas and Pete, both young and too handsome to be dog racers. His report reminds me of an earlier time when Sonny Lindner was the heart throb on the trail. One time in Nome, Lindner, Rick Swenson and myself were seated at a table when the waitress showed up. “Are you guys mushers?” There was some acknowledgement that we were which caused her to look closer. Looking at Lindner she stated “Oh, I remember you, you’re the cute one” We made him leave the tip.
Myron Angstman, lawyer, pilot, and dog musher, lives in Bethel, Alaska. Read more about dogs, law suits and rural Alaska gossip by checkinghttp://www.myronangstman.com/