Monday, March 4, 2013

Evening Report from Rohn by Myron Angstman

Martin Buser appears to be taking a long rest in Rohn, likely 24 hours, which will have him leaving in the heat of the day,  which is certainly a negative in  warm temperatures.  Several  other teams are leaving Rohn this evening after a short rest.   In recent years, many have gone through to Nicholai without a major stop.  Many of the main contenders have now arrived in Rohn, or will shortly.   

This next run is the one that starts to sort out the contenders from the pretenders.  Most  years, the first few teams that leave Nicholai are the  teams to beat.  And of those teams the ones with the best travel times to  Takotna move to the top of my list.  The Farewell  burn is no longer the challenge it was in the early years after the fire, as much of the downed  timber  and stumps have  disappeared.  In much of Alaska fires create a real mess by burning the roots of trees partially as the tundra burns, allowing the trees to blow down easily in later years.  Now young trees are growing in the burn and  the trail is much easier to follow as well.
John Baker made an impressive run today.  At my last writing he was languishing at the rear of the contenders, but a more or less non-stop push from that point will have him in Rohn shortly.  He is certainly within striking distance of the leaders, but there will be a bunch more catching up to do.

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

Willow to Rohn by Myron Angstman

Lots of talk today about Martin Buser’s 19 hour run from Willow to Rohn, by the far the fastest it has ever been done.   What’s he up to?? Well from a long distance it looks like he may have gambled on weather and trail conditions.   The first team to travel on a recently set trail,  with a bunch of snow and warm conditions, can often have a much better traveling surface than the subsequent teams.  This is because the  thin surface that sets up, after the trail breakers go through, turns to mush after a few teams churn it up.  When it is cold and a trail is set for a while,  it holds up well to a bunch of teams. My guess is Martin discovered this was the kind of trail in front of him, and off he went. He was first out of the chute, he has a fast team, and tons of experience with which to pull off such a run.

Whether it will work or not remains to be seen.  If  he had noticeably better trail than the teams behind him  for 160 miles, he gained an advantage of course.  But did he use up so much energy that the team will not be able to compete at a high level the rest of the way?  We will watch that and other issues closely. It is worth noting that Matt Failor pulled off the same run in just two hours more time.  Using the above theory,  the second team to travel such a trail has the next best trail, and so on down the list.  Failor is a former handler at Buser’s kennel, and is running the Buser second team.  That’s some  kind of “B” team.  

What does that mean for the teams that are further back including John Baker?  If the trail is soft and the temps are warm,  I doubt John is happy where he is at as this is written, leaving Finger Lake in 45th place, at mid day, running in the warmest part of the day, up hill.   And the worst part of that is the number of strong teams that are a long way ahead.   Playing catch up is John’s forte, but if the catch-up is too long, the task becomes daunting.

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