This report comes shortly after the first four teams departed Kaltag for the coast. At that time, Zirkle held a 9 mile lead, leaving about 1 ½ hours before Baker. Among the first four teams, traveling speeds have about evened out. The next team to leave will likely be Dallas Seavey, and his speed is still a bit faster than the teams ahead of him. If he can maintain that speed advantage, he will likely win. But from Kaltag to Nome, lack of rest can drain away speed from teams that are used to resting a bit longer. It is worth noting that this year, like most years, Baker is moving just as fast now as he did most of race. That is how he has moved up at the end of most of his races, and that’s how he won last year.
There is a group of fast moving teams running 7-9, which includes Kaiser, Berkowitz and Redington who have caught the eye of at least one savvy race watcher. Sebastian Schnuelle, an experienced racer, is running the trail with a snow machine and he reported today from Nulato that those three racers could barely stop their teams when they pulled into Nulato a few hours behind the leaders. Leaping and barking dogs are a good sign this late in the race. Further on the trail spy work informs me that of those three teams, Bethel youngster Pete Kaiser has a slight edge in speed. Any team ahead of those three teams that falters will be following them into Nome.
Notably missing from the front runners are a few teams that figured to be in the running. Lance Mackey has stated he has no chance to win, and neither do Martin Buser , Hugh Neff or Paul Gebhardt. The Iditarod is unkind to teams that falter, because the long distance involved tends to magnify shortcomings that develop as the race develops. The two top rookies Brent Sass and Josh Cadzow are running neck and neck at 20 and 21 in the standings. Both are accomplished racers with strong showings in other races before entering the Iditarod. For anyone interested in reading about another kind of rookie run in an old time Iditarod, check this link. http://www.
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/