Critical Section

Iditarod: the 24s are over, let the racing begin!

Thursday,  03/10/16  08:30 AM

Martin Buser's lead dog Fiddle takes a well deserved restGood morning Iditarodians ... it's been an interesting race so far, right?  Although no big surprises, either in the field or with the trail.  Most of the leaders have now taken or are now taking their "24" - the 24-hour rest they must take somewhere along the route - and that signals the start of the real race. 

[right: Martin Buser's lead dog Fiddle takes a well deserved rest]

Defending champion Dallas Seavey was leading the race by a pretty wide margin, and mushed all the way to Cripple before taking his 24.  His father Mitch, himself a four-time champion, opted for the book move and took his in Takotna.  Other leaders are or were resting in McGrath.  And another ex-champion Jeff King looks like he's headed through Cripple, and going all the way to Ruby before resting his team.  Different strategies ... which one will win?


Iditaflow on 3/10/15 at 7:30 AKSTI'm loving my little Iditaflow tracker, it makes visualizing and pondering all these permutations much easier.  If you haven't already, please check it out.  (And for those of you who have, thanks for the nice feedback :)  I'm pondering a change to analyze rest/run cycles, and maybe even project when a musher would reach Nome.  Stay tuned!

[left: Iditaflow on 3/10/16 at 7:30 AKST... please click to enbiggen!]


Mitch Seavey's sled (showing "caboose")Meanwhile here are some more great pictures from the trail, courtesy of erstwhile mushing champion and now official Iditarod blogger Sebastian Schnuelle...

Here's an interesting analysis of the runtime and rest schedules of the leading mushers so far.  By carrying dogs and allowing them to rest, teams can run further and rest less, but their speed will be less, too.

[right: Mitch Seavey's sled, showing the "caboose" where dogs can rest while the team continues running.]



Welcome to McGrathWelcome to McGrath!  I love this poster... to the small villages along the Iditarod route this race is a big deal, and in fact it's a big deal all throughout Alaska too.


DeeDee Jonrowe and her team in their signature pinkHere's a great shot of my favorite (and many others') DeeDee Jonrowe, flying along the team with her team in their signature pink.  DeeDee isn't quite up with the leaders this year - currently, she's in about 45th place - but let's hope she makes a late surge and moves up. 


The race isn't even halfway yet and it's hard to judge positions; a well rested team can make up a lot of ground on a tired team along the ice at the end.



Kelly Maizner's team coming into OphirHere's Kelly Maixner's team, coming into Ophir; Kelly is always a strong contender but looks especially good this year. 


He has a more traditional sled setup and runs a more traditional rest/run schedule, but it's working just fine so far.  There's a reason the conventional wisdom is called wisdom :)


Brent Sass flying into CrippleAnd here's a beautiful shot of Brent Sass and his team, flying into Cripple.  The dark coats and lime green booties are an especially effective combination in the dusk, don't you think?  Brent was tapped to be among the contenders this year and he his, posting some of the fastest point-to-point times.



Here's a shot of the race situation as of this morning.  You can see Jeff King way out ahead, having bypassed McGrath, Takotna, Ophir, and Cripple; he's obviously planning to run all the way to Ruby and take his 24 there.  Meanwhile Dallas Seavey is in the middle of his 24 at Cripple, and there's a big pile of mushers at Ophir too.  Onward!


Iditarod 3/10/16 at 7:20 AKST - please click to enbiggen!

(please click to enbiggen amazingly)


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