Monday, March 12, 2012

Anticipating the Finish

Myron's Analysis

I would like to declare a winner in the 2012 Iditarod, but its still too close to call. Dallas Seavey obviously has the edge but with 100 miles to go, too many things can go wrong to declare him the winner with Aliy Zirkle in sight behind him and a formidable Ramey Smyth 10 miles back. The most obvious issue would be a carried dog, but there are numerous other things that could go wrong to erase a 2 mile lead. I can however make some wild prognostications.

The top eight are fairly firmly in place. After the above three teams, destined for the top three spots, we have five other teams that have made some space for themselves and are likely to remain in the 4-8 spots-Aaron Burmeister, Mitch Seavey, Pete Kaiser, John Baker and Ray Redington. Expect some jockeying there. Aaron's tracker is not working but if he has been moving for the past couple of hours, he would seem to have fourth place sewed up, as the others are still in Elim.

Brent Sass has a good handle on rookie of the year, running in 14th place at Koyuk. Another Kuskokwim racer Mike Williams Jr. has a shot at the top ten. One musher looked like he made the best move in the race today. Veteran racer Bob Chlupach briefly appeared as the number three team on the Iditarod update page, with a travel time of about 7 hours from Ruby to Elim. Man was he moving. Mistakes happen but that was a bad one.

Folks are gathering in Nome for an expected finish tororrow. The lead teams will start taking their mandatory eight hours in White Mountain around midnite tonight, and leave for Nome in the morning. That will make for a finish in the early evening, perfect for fans. The weather is typical coast weather, clear, cold and windy. I took a short run with 14 dogs tonight in similar weather. It was pleasant. Beautiful sky, great trail and happy dogs. But it was nice to unhitch after an hour and go inside. Imagine how it feels after 900 miles, when you just keep going.

Myron Angstman, lawyer, pilot, and dog musher, lives in Bethel, Alaska. Read more about dogs, law suits and rural Alaska gossip by checking

Baker Honored Back Home

While John and his dogs have been competing in this year's Iditarod Sled Dog Race, folks back home are cheering him on, and today, John, received the honor of being the NANA Shareholder of the Year.  

NANA Regional Corporation is an Alaska Native Corporation fully owned by more than 12,700 Inupiat shareholders and each year recognizes a shareholder who shows leadership within the community and NANA region, contributes to the community and NANA region, shows political involvement in his or her village, region, or state, helps preserve the Inupiat culture, and makes other contributions that benefit the overall lifestyle of NANA Shareholders.

Robert "Dad Dad" Sampson, with NANA Regional Corporation, presented the award and said, "While we are happy to share John with the rest of the world, we are proud to call him one of our own."

There have been a multitude of challenges the teams have faced in the 2012 Iditarod, including heavy snowfall on the trail and extremely cold temperatures, proving this is undoubtedly the world's most grueling sled dog race in the world. But today John shifted his focus, from the intensity of the trail  and stiff competition, to being named as the recipient of this prestigious award. He was deeply moved and said, "This is the greatest award I can receive. What higher honor is there? Being acknowledged by your own people is very meaningful and humbling."

A video of John was shown during the meeting attended by more than 700 people in Selawik, Alaska, and he received a standing ovation.  A touching tribute as John continues up the trail with perserverance and determination.

Monday Afternoon Update by Myron Angstman

Myron's Analysis
Dallas took his straw a little ways out of Elim and camped. Once again he will be able to see Aliy coming and maintain a lead.  Still to close to call at this point, that’s for sure. I don’t have the times yet, but when they were moving, they had similar speeds on the last run.  

Smyth and Kaiser are moving up. Smyth will be in third shortly, and a little later Kaiser will likely be in fourth. Both are strong finishers, Smyth for many years and Kaiser just a few because he is only 24 years old. John Baker knows the Kaiser team well, and said in Anchorage the team he feared most at the end was Pete Kaiser.

Myron Angstman, lawyer, pilot, and dog musher, lives in Bethel, Alaska. Read more about dogs, law suits and rural Alaska gossip by checking

Monday Morning by Myron Angstman

Myron's Analysis

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 checking