March 11 8:29am Huslia Wade Marrs leads pack
Insiders can read the stats and follow the very diagnostic GPS tracker to come to my same conclusion. Wade Marrs is leading the pack into Koyukuk and resisting the attacks of Dallas and Mitch Seavey. Other luminaries in the mushing world including Aliy Zirkle are on the trail to KOyukuk but hours in arrears. We are all watching to see how their plays to the front unfold and no one I have talked to has any reasonable predictions.
Personally, I am watching Nicolas Petit and Jessie Royer with interest because they remain with 16 dog teams and I have gut feeling they are the fastest. Nicolas Petit is probably five hours off the pace but one suspects that he will recoup two to three hours with a run off his 24 hour mandatory in Huslia.
In the checkpoint, while having breakfast with a group of mushers, one concludes that they never discount Dallas Seavey and that he has appeared a little slow and methodical at this stage of the race before AND then unleashes the best eight or nine dogs for the final push to Nome. HE has been nurturing his team by giving two or three dog a ride in his carbon fiber sled bag, but this is always at some cost in team speed. AT this stage of the race I can imagine that he has identified eight or nine dogs that are running well, avoided injury and are very strong. He could not have predicted this at the start of the race—it just happens. Maybe he sees five that can help him get the team up trail but may not be strong enough to finish hard with the elite eight. Therefore, at his steady travelling speed, these five help pull the sled and give the elite nine a rest in the sled. AT some point, he will trim the team to those eight or nine, put his good leader to the front, and begin to really move, or as he says, “unleash the monster.” Climbing teams do the same thing as all the members help get to summit camp, then identify the strongest climbers for the final summit push, and everybody gets credit for a successful ascent.
WE are off to Nulato to catch the leaders.