Anna and Kristy were pulling into Unalakleet (race mile 673) around the same time I was landing. They were reported in 44th and 45th places, respectively. As I suspected, neither twin dropped any dogs in Nulato, although Anna did drop one dog in the next checkpoint of Kaltag, leaving her with 12 and Kristy with 13. Dropping a questionable dog in Kaltag was probably a wise decision on Anna's part, rather than risking a problem along the long, 85 mile stretch from Kaltag to Unalakleet.
Aside from the dogs needing a good rest at this point, I suspect the twins are taking their time in Unalakleet before starting the next 40 mile run to Shaktoolik. A fairly severe ground blizzard was reported around Shaktoolik, with many teams hunkering down there, hoping the weather would subside.
The run from Kaltag to Unalakleet, aside from being the longest run between checkpoints in the Iditarod, also took mushers from the inland river environment to the Bearing Sea coast. As with most of the rest of the trail, weather will be a big factor for the remainder of the race, as coastal running leaves little reprieve from the notoriously brutal winds.
The top 5 mushers are out of White Mountain and have completed their final 8 hour mandatory layover. A winner is expected under the burled arch later today and I'll be bundled up and holding down a spot with dozens of others near the finish line. Odds are firmly on Dallas Seavey to take first at this point, as he pulled out of White Moutain a full hour before Aliy. But it is a long, windy 55 miles to Safety and another 22 miles after that to Nome, so never say never. The fat lady may be warming up, but she isn't singing yet.
With the top 5 out of White Mountain and running 9-10 dog teams, we find our friend Paul recently into Elim (race mile 797) in 16th place and with 10 dogs. The Mushin' Mortician, Scott Janssen, pulled out of Unalakleet in 40th place with 13 dogs just before 2:30pm Tuesday. If I had to guess, I don't think the twins will follow him down the trail until well after dark. Only two of the remaining 56 mushers are in Nulato, with one additional scratch since my last update leaving the count on those out of the race at 10.
It promises to be an exciting couple of days as the mushers start to arrive. I'll do my best to post pictures and more updates as I anxiously wait for Kristy and Anna to take their turn under the burled arch.