It’s come down to 3 teams; Nick, Joar, and Mitch. They won’t necessarily finish 1-2-3, but it would take an ‘Act of God’ for someone to catch all three.
By now we know that the Eagle Island checkpoint is at very least without food drops, and has literally been taken off the map. Teams will have to carry their food from Grayling. There’s plenty of dog food out there, but it’s one more thing making this race slow and hard, and preventing carrying dogs as a strategy.
Between the three of them, Nick has cut the Iditarod to Kaltag stretch into 3 runs: Iditarod to Anvik, Anvik to the spot formerly known as Eagle Island, and Eagle Island to Kaltag. Meanwhile, Mitch and Joar have split it into 4 runs: I-Shageluk, Shageluk to Grayling, Grayling to E.I., E.I. to Kaltag.
Put simply, Nick is taking one less 3 hr rest, and will end up the length of that rest plus his original one hour lead ahead in Kaltag: 4 hours total give or take for runtime differences.
Nick is will leave Kaltag with a team coming off 5 consecutive monster runs, a short rest, with a four-hour lead, betting that he can hold that four-hour lead. Mitch and Joar will be coming off an 8-hour rest, with a team that hasn’t been pushed, betting that by resting more they will be faster later, and can then run Nick down going up the coast.
In typical Iditarod fashion, the fascinating part isn’t what’s happening now, it’s how this will play out two or three days from now. For the moment, they’re just going through the motions, knowingly giving up or taking a big lead, but Come Monday…