It's a little tricky to clearly interpret the Insider analytics between the twins, as I think Anna's tracker had an early error. I know her dogs were excited, but I'm fairly certain they didn't launch off the line at nearly 80 miles per hour!
Here's what I can tell you. I know Kristy wasn't planning to control or reduce her speeds early in the race solely to allow Anna to catch up. Nor was Anna planning to push her team faster. But it looks like things just naturally shook out that way. My hunch is, being only the 3rd musher down the trail, Kristy may have been breaking more trail along the way and her dogs were content to go a bit slower. Anna, with more mushers breaking trail in front of her and as the snow started to abate a bit into the evening, could and did pick up the pace. In any event, Anna shaved 4 minutes off her run time vs Kristy getting to Yentna Station, and since they opted to give the dogs a rest here that wasn't initially on their schedule, they could have compared notes about the first 40 or so miles of trail while in checkpoint.
Kristy pulled out of Yentna around 9:20pm after giving the dogs a nearly 2 hour rest. Anna gave the dogs a 1hr 44min rest and pulled her snow hook just 11 minutes behind her. They maintained nearly identical speeds over the next 30 miles of trail and pulled into Skwentna within 10 minutes of each other around 1am today. The plan they shared we me allotted for a 5hr rest in this checkpoint, but it looks like they cut that shorter by about an hour, a good sign that the dogs are resting well and then keen to keep moving.
Kristy was reported in 23rd place and Anna in 24th when they each were noted as out of Skwentna at 5:02am. No dogs were returned, so each twin still has 14 canine athletes in front of her sled. They have about 40 miles to go to the next checkpoint Finger Lake. I believe the plan is to resupply in Finger, including straw, and then run about 10 miles or so past the checkpoint to camp out on the Happy River for about 5 hours. We'll see if their assessment of snow conditions makes that still feasible.
Let's get back to all this snow talk for a second. One of the mandatory gear items for Iditarod are a pair of snowshoes. They must be operational, with bindings, and each snowshoe has to be at least 252 square inches. Prior to this year, the twins have completed 18 Iditarods between them and never once used those darn snowshoes. Could this year be the year?! You tell me...
These photos were posted in an article on AlaskaPublic.org and credited to the Iditarod trail breakers. They sure have their work cut out for them this year!