As you've probably been alerted by now, the 44th Iditarod had its winner at 2:20am Alaska time this morning. And not only a winner, but a new record finish time. After 8 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, and 16 seconds out on the trail, Dallas Seavey, 29, captured his 4th Iditarod title. He pulled under the burled arch Tuesday morning with 6 dogs in harness, his two lead dogs Reef and Tide, litter-mates, claiming first nose. This is practically old hat for Reef, a 4-year-old male who has now run on three championship teams. To hear Dallas describe it in video footage, running in front of a sled is pure, unadulterated joy for Reef.
Not long behind Dallas, his dad Mitch Seavey, 56, claimed 2nd place. His total race time was also faster than Dallas's then record-breaking first place finish last year. I think it is fair to say that the Last Great Race has entered a new realm.
As of this writing, there are 9 teams into Nome. I'm pleased to see that both Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King are amongst the top ten (3rd and 9th, respectively), despite the senseless and tragic snow machine attack only a couple days ago. Kudos to these two mushers for their perseverance, and another nod to King's dog Nash, whom I'm confident would have made Jeff's 11-dog finishing team 12, had one man not been so thoughtlessly cruel.
Let's return to the trail! Of the original 85 teams, we have 9 into Nome and 64 on the trail. Our scratch count is up to 12, and that list of names includes Lance Mackey. A four-time back to back Iditarod champion, cancer survivor, and all around interesting character, it's a shame Lance saw the need to scratch. But I know he would have made the decision in the best interests of his dog team, as most mushers do. And I have little doubt we'll see Lance or his protégés again. Plus, it goes to show... just 'cuz you're once a champion doesn't mean Life won't later make you start over from scratch (pun intended).
To the twins! I have to admit, this part of the race is quite fun for your Mad Blogger. As a financial trader by trade, projecting when the twins will pull under the burled arch is a fun exercise, and if I had enough folks in my office following it as closely as I do, you can bet I'd get a pool going. As I don't believe that is (yet!) the case, I fear you, dear reader, bear the brunt of my speculations. Thus far, I'm not too far afield, with the twins ahead of my estimates by 1 hour.
We last had them pulling into Unalakleet just before noon on Monday. They chilled in checkpoint for just over four and a half hours (slightly shorter than my estimate) before hitting the 40-mile trail to Shaktoolik. And so they spent their Monday afternoon and evening, arriving in Shak (race mile 754) around 10:30pm. They rested and resupplied in Shak for nearly six and a half hours (inside my estimate), before saying, "see ya later" just after 5am Tuesday morning.
So while you were maybe sipping coffee and making lunch plans, Kristy and Anna mushed the 50 miles from Shaktoolik to Koyuk. They pulled into this checkpoint (race mile 804) around 11:30am Tuesday. Neither twin has dropped a dog since Kaltag, leaving Kristy with 10 dogs in harness and Anna 9 dogs. They had the arguably ambitious plan of only staying in this checkpoint for 4 hours... I budgeted 5. We'll see...
Ah, the joys of technology. As I'm literally crafting that last paragraph, I see GPS start to move and an email ping announcing the twins are out of Koyuk. It's about 5:45pm Alaska time Tuesday, and they're off on the 48 miles to Elim. They rested six and a half hours here, longer than I projected in my overall finish time estimate. But, as they were ahead of schedule, this leaves them conveniently smack-dab in the middle of my estimated 'out of Koyuk' time. Neither twin dropped any dogs, they're done with the more brutal part of the coastal run, the weather seems fair with 10-15mph winds and temps in the single digits Fahrenheit... I'll stick with my prior Seeing Double finish time of 4-5am Alaska time Thursday.
I am most curious to see how long the twins rest in Elim once they arrive. They planned for 4 hours, but I was told if it was less than that, it means they're "racing"! Anna was reported out of Koyuk in 41st, Kristy in 42nd. The 39th place musher was only out of Koyuk 9 minutes ahead of them. And having a 30-handle finish in a field this competitive would be nothing to sneeze at. And even when they arrive in Elim, they'll have just over 120 miles left to Nome. That's half of some of their competitive mid-distances races... if they can shake the fact that they've already been out on the trail for 9 days and a couple hours, they just might push up the ranks.
With that, I'll leave you with some pictures from ADN.com and a Seeing Double special Iditarod Insider post from Sebastian Schnuelle.