Thursday, March 7, 2013

Martin's Lead- Quick Update by Myron Angstman

So I was wrong.   Martin  Buser looks like he is extending his lead on the run from  Iditarod to Shageluk, and if that happens he becomes the favorite to hold on and win.    He started slowly  this afternoon, but kicked in  later  and right now is about 25 miles ahead of the nearest team.   Wow!

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

In and Out of Iditarod by Myron Angstman

Martin Buser was the first out of Iditarod, but is moving slowly.  Next out was Aliy Zirkle,  20 miles behind Buser.   She might not beat him into Shageluk, but will surely gain a bunch on him.   Keep a good eye on this segment, because  a strong run  to the Yukon will elevate  any of the front runners into likely winner status. 

John Baker has advanced a bit and  will arrive in Iditarod  in the early evening.   He and his team  must not like the 45 degree temperatures on the trail, but they have passed a  number  of teams today.

The trail from Iditarod to Shageluk brings to  mind an earlier trip up the same trail I made in 1979.  I was a rookie and  moving slowly.  I left Iditarod at -30 in the early morning.   I went all day, up and down the hills, hoping the top of the next hill would reveal the familiar sight of the Innoko River.  It didn't take forever to get there, but  it sure felt like it.   As I topped yet another hill  standing by the trail was a man I knew from a previous hunting trip to Shageluk.  The fellow was  the official greeter for the village, and met every boat that stopped in the summer, without fail.  He had some mental challenges,  and had a difficult time communicating.  I thought I  must be very close to the village, because this guy was standing along the trail. He motioned that I should give him a  ride.  I  declined,  because I was barely  moving  with my current load.  We had a  short  but animated visit, and he expressed as well as he could how happy he was to see me.  I waved and moved off for what surely was going to be a short ride into the village at about midnight.    About 1 am, I pulled into the checkpoint,  moving at about 5 mph.   I learned from people at the checkpoint that  my buddy had  eagerly awaited my arrival, and decided to walk along the trail  until he found me, about five miles out, at  -20. 

He showed up later and I thanked him as best I could.  He still loves the Iditarod, and attends the banquet each year in Anchorage, where he now lives.  Recalling that  stop on the trail still warms me up a bit, as it did that night.

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

Storms and Strategy by Myron Angstman

It sounds like a windy day on the  Iditarod trail. As I gaze out my window in  Bethel, about 150 miles south of  Iditarod,  the wind has  picked up a bit, and appears to be part of a system moving toward  Iditarod and the Yukon River, next up on the trail.   Bad weather is  a significant part of Iditarod racing, although in recent years the race has had fewer big storms that  in earlier years when the race actually  ground to a halt at times.  This storm doesn’t look like it will stop anyone yet, but big winds and warm temps can make a messy, slow trail.

We are too far from the action to determine who might suffer the most from a soft, blown in trail, but there are a lot of hills between Iditarod and Shageluk, and  conventional wisdom points to stronger dogs getting the edge over faster dogs.  I know in my experience, I  used fast trotting dogs that bogged down horribly in soft snow-they wanted  nothing in their way.  Lighter weight,  well conditioned racers also have an advantage  going up  hills in such conditions.

With all that factored in, the first couple of teams to emerge out of the hills on to flat going  at before Shageluk are without doubt the teams  to beat in this  race.  Martin Buser is likely to  be the first team out of Iditarod,  but  historically his dogs shine  on hard fast trail.  The  next team out could well be  Aaron Burmeister and after that it gets  clouded.  One team moving up right now is Pete Kaiser.  His team has been moving a bit slower  in the early part of the race, but he  is a light guy, well conditioned, and  might be well suited for just the kind of trail he will  soon encounter.

Lance Mackey and  Sonny Lindner  are on their 24 hour break at Iditarod. They will leave after a bunch of teams, and that could turn out to be an advantage for them if the trail is the type that can get packed down by  the earlier teams.   John Baker is  50 miles from Iditarod at this writing,  and he needs a slow down up front in order to climb back into contention.

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