Now that most teams have taken their 24, are about to finish their layover in Iditarod the standing are straightening out and we can easier see who is where.
Surprisingly to me 2 of my Top Picks are not up front. John Baker and Ramey Smyth both are sitting in the mid 20th placing. With John, I can easily pinpoint the reason in the extraordinary warm weather. Ramey, I do not have an explanation. But he was in the same position last year in Takotna, and ended up in 3rd place.
On the other hand, there is a few unexpected surprises in the Top 10. Nicolas Petit is running a very strong race and so is Joar Leifseth Ulsom. I was my pick for the Rookie of the year, but I did not expect him this high up. 14 dogs for both is also a great number and it shows that both did their homework.
Jake Berkowitz is running a strong race with 16 dogs on the towline. Of course Mitch is in the mix. Aliy Zirkle is the second team out, about 3 hr 20 minutes behind Martin Buser. She camped through the heat of the day. Aaron Burmeister should take off soon.
Also surprising is, how did Jeff King get 12 hrs behind the current leader. He still has to sit in Iditarod until about 2.30 a.m. It must be tough for him to see all the teams populate the checkpoint and not being able to follow.
Ray Redington is in the top 10 and many strong teams like Paul Gebhardt and Jessie Royer are right on his heels. Its going to be a hard fought for race. The front pack is packed tight. There is still plenty of time for some “ moves “ on the Yukon River or the portage to Unalakleet. The warm weather remains a factor. Is above freezing in Shageluk right now and the checkpoint is buzzing with activity, with planes arriving with supplies, the kitchen filling with supplies, the drop dog area being set up. Arnold a long time local volunteer, who has some sled dogs right on the edge of town, mills around the checkpoint and is anxiously awating the arrival of the first team.
For us, we keep on heading down the trail to Anvik, while we still have some daylight. While racing, I have never stopped in Anvik for more than a check in and out…. so I am glad I get a chance to visit this time.