Jeff King pulled through Koyuk without much of a stop to take the lead away from Mitch Seavey. Those two, barring a big run from Zirkle or Redington, seem to have the only shot for this year’s title, at least from the long range view out my window in Bethel. King has the edge, mainly because he is in first and moving fastest. I have noted his moving speed has been the highest throughout the race, but he was a ways back until Unalakleet where a strong run from Kaltag moved him into contention. In recent years, with an eight hour rest at White Mountain, that checkpoint has become the unofficial finish line, as the winning team is usually the first team in there. Even a tired team at White Mountain is hard to catch after 8 hours of rest. So if King maintains his 6-8 mile lead until White Mountain, he is the likely winner.
We know the King has a fresher team right now because he gained about ½ hour on the run into Koyuk. Observers noted that Seavey looked tired coming in, which is understandable after the pace these racers have maintained for days. His realization that King has the faster team certainly contributes to his weariness. Along with having the faster team, King also has the most rest throughout the race (the two factors contribute to each other of course). King held back a bit in the early part of the race, and now it pays off.
Redington and Zirkle can’t be ignored. They had strong finishes last year and they have had good runs this year to be where they are today. But they were close to two hours behind Seavey arriving in Koyuk, and that is a major gap at this point in the race. Burmeister and Ulsom are in the same group, but moving a bit slower so are likely out of the running for first.
John Baker pulled into Shaktoolik 17th, and has a big challenge to make his way into the top ten based on his current moving speed. He arrived in that check point about four hours after the tenth place team DeeDee Jonrowe. He is now on his way to Koyuk.
Myron Angstman, lawyer, pilot, and dog musher, lives in Bethel, Alaska. Read more about dogs, law suits and rural Alaska gossip by checking http://www.myronangstman.com/