John Baker ended his Iditarod in 19th place, and the pictures suggested was on the trail for a few days. The brutal winds of the past couple days took a toll on most of the racers. Some were hard to recognize in their finish line photos. I haven’t had a chance to talk with him, but I suspect 19th is little behind where he hoped to finish at the start.
Throughout the race Baker’s traveling speed was a notch slow to contend for the top spot. He has always had a bit slower pace than some, but the gap was more pronounced this year. Perhaps the hard fast trail had something to do with that. Baker often shines best on softy trails with hard pulling.
In addition to not finishing near the top, Baker lost his record for fastest Iditarod. That was a record that was likely to fall, as will this year’s record now held by Dallas Seavey.
Katherine Keith is at White Mountain in 30th place, the last paying position. There are a number of teams in who will leave just ahead of her, so she has some chance to gain a place or two. She would be happy with 30th I’m sure.
Tales of the tough trail are now emerging. Martin Buser’s account of the last two days is brutal, as is Jeff King’s account of his problems around Safety. Less well known racers likely have similar stories we haven’t heard. It is clear that survival was at least a part of the equation during the worst of the wind. The Iditarod has never cost anyone their life, but a few racers have wondered if their affairs were in order during some bad storms.
Tomorrow’s report will conclude this year’s reports.