Seeing Double just pulled into Eagle Island, race mile 592, one checkpoint and about 60 miles behind the leaders. Their plan was to camp in checkpoint for 5 hours before hitting the trail to Kaltag. Their rests in the prior 2 checkpoints were to plan by nearly the minute, and I hope this is a sign they're feeling good, their dogs are happy, and they're not only thinking of simply making it to Nome - always goal #1 in addition to dog care - but they're also racing.
Kristy was into Eagle Island in 20th with Anna right on her heels in 21st. Anna returned her second dog in Grayling, so each twin is mushing a team of 12 canine athletes. Turns out returned dogs up to Unalakleet are still flown back to Anchorage, so I'll let everyone know when Aaron has picked up both Rousey and whichever other pup caught a ride home from Grayling.
If the twins stick to their plan, they should pull their hooks out of Eagle around 1am Sunday. They don't plan any long camp outs along the way, so it will be approaching mid-day when they get into Kaltag. They should take their 8 hour rest here. So while we will see a few teams pass them, as half the field is done with their 8s, don't forget - those teams still have to rest, too. Maybe only 4-6 hours, but it isn't like everyone else will be moving the whole time Anna and Kristy are resting in Kaltag. And I've liked their speed since they got off their 24s. Sure, they did move up the ranks recently because most of the teams in front of and close to them took their 8s, but the twins still took 5 hour rests themselves. It will be very interesting to see how the field progresses now that these rests are done. The only remaining mandatory stop is the 8-hour in White Mountain, and the field will certainly be even more defined by that point.
As teams get closer to the coast, they should encounter more snow and winds will continue. The snow base is reportedly 2-5 feet along most of the rest of the trail, and Nome has had a record season - some 94 inches according to one article I ran across recently. The sea ice is all but gone, though, so teams will be running the inland trail, something I don't believe the twins have done before.
In addition to Nome's snowfall record, here's a very random stream of tidbits I've run across in the last few days but failed to work into prior posts...
There's been some rough trail throughout this race. Earlier stories covered busted up sleds, sore mushers, and tussocks in the trail that made riding the sled feel like being drug through a field of bowling balls.
The loan Frenchman in this year's race, Dos Santos Borges, has 3 shelter dogs running on his team this year. Of course they're all of Iditarod caliper, but it certainly is a rare thing to transition from homeless to house pet to Iditarod Dog!
Nic Petit reported an encounter with a moose earlier in the race. Allegedly the moose wasn't trying to charge or otherwise attack the team, but seemed more content to run in close proximity for a bit. Petit joked they were racing.
Renown but retired Iditarod racer DeeDee Jonrowe is reporting for KTUU this year, and in a report from outside Ophir, she mentioned a conversation with the twins and why they turned up in Ophir with straw on their sleds. Hear for yourself here.
There are 50 volunteer veterinarians from 5 different countries working with the Iditarod this year to make sure each and every canine athlete gets the best care.
Friday was International Women's Day. In addition to the feature in Vogue that I mentioned in a prior post, Anna and Kristy were also in an ADN.com story ~ Badass Women Who Made History in the Iditarod. I know the twins, like many female mushers, think of themselves simply as competitors, not female competitors. But I still think what they do is pretty darn impressive, and they have to admit, it is a traditionally male-dominated sport. Be proud, ladies. You ARE badass.
Not to mention good role models for kids of all ages. Kristy and Anna found time in their busy pre-Iditarod schedule in late February to appear at a local school in support of Iditaread, and they brought a couple canine representatives with them. Great way to inspire kids to read and an important job for some of our retired racers. You can see a news story on their appearance here.