Today’s events on the trail confirm most of what was conjectured here last night. Martin Buser held the lead for much of the day, and was first into Nulato. Next up was Sonny Lindner, who was the fastest moving team coming down the Yukon after his long rest in Ruby. The third team into Nulato was Aily Zirkle, and moving well. Jeff King was traveling fourth, and that is a bit of a surprise coming after his long rest in Ruby. His speed didn't match Lindner’s, and he also stopped for a rest in Galena, which Lindner did not. The fifth team, in a bit of surprise, was Nic Petit. He has moved up mainly on the strength of great speed, which he has shown in the past few runs.
Not much can be drawn from this information. Not all teams have completed their mandatory 8 hour rest, and thus equal comparisons can’t be made. Recent history tells me that the run to Unalakleet is where the elite teams emerge, and today’s runs were jockeying for position to make a strong run to the coast.
John Baker at this writing sits in 13th place, in Galena with a bunch of other teams that are just off the pace of the leaders. Baker has yet to complete his 8 hour rest. Katherine Keith is in 27th place, third among the rookies, at Ruby.
Other teams of interest to many folks in rural Alaska should be mentioned. Aaron Burmeister with Nome roots has struggled along with a gimpy knee and has stayed with the leaders fairly well. He is in ninth place, in Galena, and has completed his 8 hour rest. His speed has slipped a bit, but Aaron is a gritty racer and will have a good shot for the top ten.
Mike Williams Jr is in 20th place with 9 dogs on his way to Ruby. Pete Kaiser and Richie Diehl are 22nd and 23rd, running in lock step on the way to Galena as well. Kaiser, a Bethel guy like me, has a fairly young team and expected his team might not be ready to match his best finish of 5th this year. Diehl is running his second race, and has moved up significantly from last year when he finished 36th.