Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The deck is about to get shuffled...24 hour layovers

Martin Buser’s early  Tuesday arrival in Nikolai is  astounding.    He got there  about  4 ½ hours ahead of Nicholas Petit,  and no one else will be within 6 hours it appears. The next couple of runs will  show whether the frantic pace has taken too much speed out of Buser’s  team.  Recent history  suggests that will be the case. 

The tracker shows  John Baker and Katherine Keith about 40 miles out of Nikolai at  7 am,  which places them in the mid teens in the standings.  It is interesting that the Iditarod has changed the format of the tracker.  It started  by having the teams in order of their bibs, but now it is in the order of placement which makes it a lot easier for fans.   Next they should put numerical position next to each racer.  Spot Trackers are now used for the first time by the Iditarod,  and  the tried and true format used for the trackers in other races was  junked.  This morning  there is a reference to outside interference with the Iditarod website, which has had some technical  issues  from the start of the race.

The Team Baker website also has issues.  No one has figured out how to update the  basic  information from last year’s  site.  Of course,  most have figured out  that the same guy is writing these reports, Myron Angstman,  and obviously  all the dates should read  2014.

Mike Williams Jr.  is currently in the top ten.  He has had a tough  year for training in Akiak on the Kuskokwim.   The last couple of months have been on glare ice, and before that it was only a bit better.  Yet he is running with the front of the pack.  It probably doesn’t hurt that  the trail he is now using is similar to the one he trained on.  Dogs learn to move differently  on ice with a little practice.  My dogs have always  done fairly well on ice, and  poorly in deep snow because of their Kuskokwim training.

Today the teams will start  arriving in Takotna and  the order will be a lot  different than it is right now.  It takes a strong team to keep the current pace of the front runners, rest a few hours in Nikolai and then  drive 75 more mile to Takotna where  a majority of the teams  will take their  24  hour rest.  By tomorrow, predictions start to make a little sense.

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