Most of the teams are on their 24 hour break, so this is your designated town day. You have until roughly 8pm Alaska time to do anything that requires being away from a computer.
Nicolas Petit and Joar Leifseth Ulsom are on a pace we’ve never seen before. The lead mushers usually arrive in Takotna for the 24 about 11pm-Midnight. Joar got there before dark. They’re both moving fast and not stopping much. If they can keep this up, we’ve got a clear cut two-way race.
They both have weaknesses however. Joar has run Jager in single lead almost the whole way. I’ve seen that before with Mitch, it usually means he doesn’t have two good ones. Jager may be the next superstar, but it’s a lot to ask of a young, inexperienced dog to run 1000 miles in single lead. Like a rookie quarterback in the playoffs.
Nick is a tougher read. He’ll make a ‘mistake,’ or two, and just when I’m ready to write him off he’ll post the fastest time in the race. He’s always the wildcard. I’m expecting him to 24 in Ophir as he has historically.
Jessie Royer is looking like a rock star. I wrote her off after the 9th place finish in the Yukon Quest – Official Site, but she was holding out on us. The scary thing is Jessie is known for finishing fast, so if she’s this close already…I think Iditarod fans would be okay with another woman champion.
Mitch Seavey is now right on schedule. It’s interesting that he’s gone conservative in the year Joar and Nick are going all-out. Hopefully, he’ll get a chance to race them in the end, but at this point he’s going to have to get the help from the weather he’s counting on, as discussed yesterday. The dog he sent home was Pilot, I’ll post more about that later once we get him back.
The other teams that’s stood out is Richie Diehl. We were parked next to him at the start, and he has a beautiful, fat dog team (that’s a compliment in musherese). He’s moving well, and right in the mix. He’s proving last year’s 6th place finish was a stepping stone, not a fluke.
If I was a betting man, that’d be my Top-5, with Matthew Failor 6th.
Back of the pack note…the Cindys and Victoria Hardwick left Rohn together roughly on pace with the usual red lantern, and well ahead of the ‘too far behind’ mark. If they can keep this up they’ll be fine.
The Seavey teams are powered by Dr. Tim’s Pet Food Company, LLC
1:14 am, Wednesday. Photo Mitch and wife Janine Seavey at the Willow start by Matt Nath