July 30, 2014

March 11 Nome 2 18 am Seavey and Zirkle Within a Mile

March 11 Nome 2:18 am Seavey and Zirkle within a mile

What began as victory lap yesterday afternoon at 3PM for Jeff King has now become a neck and neck battle between 1xchamp Dallas Seavey and Aliy Zirkle, second in 2012 and 2013. 

A brief summary of events to describe the evening:  Jeff King and team were blown off the trail into a drift wood pile.  Pinned down by the wind and unable to continue for over an hour and half, King scratched.  Zirkle, who was an hour behind King on leaving White Mountain,  unknowingly passed King in the dark and arrived at the Safety checkpoint in first place.

We suspect that she decided to stay in the protection of Safety since wind was reported at 65 knots.

Meanwhile, Dallas bridged a distance of about 17 miles and was undoubtedly mindblown to discover that he had caught up to the race.  Having arrived at Safety it seems obvious that he had the leaders to take him through the wind .

He pushed through Safety checkpoint  for the 22 mile portage around Cape Nome to the finish.  Aliy departed the refuge of Safety and pursued.

And now, we have arrived at one of the most improbable finishes in Iditarod history.  Seavey and Zirkle are almost even, Seavey leading the way.

The rules state that No-Man’s land start at Fort Davis.  Once in No-Man’s land to the finish, a musher is not required to yield the trail to the following trail.  This is a big question as I view the Insider Tracker.

Having done the race 10 times I can tell you that I would have no idea  in the dark where Fort Davis marks the No- Man’s Zone.  Therefore, I wonder whether Dallas Seavey  is in  a predicament.  If he has not reached Ft DvisS, then he must yield the trail.  If the two have passed Ft. Davis, then Dallas is within the rules to stay on the trail and not yield the way.

In this instance, Aliy must pass Seavey on the run, possibly directing leaders on the tundra off trail and make a powerful surge to pass Seavey.  This is, practically speaking, not very easy to do.

One is reminded of the famous battle Rick Swenson and Dick Mackey, when both mushers came down Front Street racing side by side.  Their run down front street was complicated by tangle around vehicles and the dogs’ uncertainty as to where the finish actual  was.  Short Story.  Ultimately Dick Mackey’s lead dog crossed the finish line about the same time Mackey collapsed.  Concurrently, Swenson’s team crossed the finish line and Swenson helped by also making sure the sled crossed the finish line.

In a debated determination, it was decided, according to Nome Kennel Rules, that the winner was the first nose across the line. Other races specify that the winner is determined by the musher and the entire team and sled across the line.

Today, Nome rules prevail—first nose across the line wins.