And they're so close! We caught them pulling out of Koyuk last night around 5:45pm. They were on the trail for 6 hours mushing the 48 miles to Elim, nearly spot-on to my guesstimate, arriving 20 minutes before midnight. But they spent 5 hours 40 minutes resting, and, perhaps with sisterly confidence, I had budgeted 4 hours with the aforementioned racing mentality in mind. This isn't to say they're not in a competitive frame of mind. I'm sure they're just adjusting strategy to conditions and indications from their dogs.
Whatever the reason, they pulled out of Elim at 5:20am this morning. Neither twin dropped any dogs, leaving Kristy with 10 in harness and Anna with 9 dogs. They covered the 46 miles in just over six hours, arriving in White Mountain around 11:28am in 40th and 41st place. I'm being precise with the time, as they should pull their snow hooks for the final leg of this race at precisely 7:28pm.
When they do, they'll have a 55 mile run to Safety, where they'll only stop for a couple minutes to sign in and out and grab their bibs. The fastest run so far from White Mountain to Safety belongs to Dallas at 5 hours 48 minutes (and with 6 dogs!), while the longest - excluding Brent Sass - at 8 hours 11 minutes by a 9-dog team. I originally allotted six and a half to seven hours for the twins, and I'll stand by that. Then they have the final 22 miles to Nome. The vast majority of those into Nome so far did this stretch in under 3 hours, and I budgeted 3 hours for the twins initially. I won't be surprised to see them come in under this mark as well, but I'll take the extra minutes to hedge the prior run, in case it takes them a bit longer.
So I'm still calling for a Seeing Double finish between 4-5am Alaska time tomorrow, although now I will skew that toward the 5am side. I'll be watching the live feed on the Iditarod Insider and will post an update with their finish times and comments from their post race interviews as soon as I can.
There are already 32 teams into Nome and 41, including the twins, out on the trail. Our scratch count hasn't changed since the last update at 12. Those at the finish include 3 rookies, with Geir Idar Hjelvik claiming Rookie of the Year after 9 days 17 hours and 24 minutes (wow, my spell checker had problems with his name). Interestingly, this 56 year old Norwegian with an affinity for folk dancing finished the race with a time that would have beat Lance Mackey's 2009 championship time as well as all champions prior to 1995!
The twins' finishing time will also be faster than many past champions, another testament to how this sport has evolved. And while they won't beat last year's personal best times, they're on track for a very respectable, and close, second personal best. We'll have confirmation very soon!