Never one to count chickens before they hatch, I am admittedly more confident the twins will retain their current ranking into the finish. Recall in my last update, I reported DeeDee Jonrowe had pulled into Elim just 1 hour 15 minutes after the twins. For whatever reason, though, she ended up resting in this checkpoint for over 10 hours (more than twice the girls' rest), allowing the twins to widen their margin substantially. As it stands now, DeeDee is just starting her 8hr in WM, and Jodi Bailey is now their closest competition. The earliest she can leave WM will still put her 4 hours behind the twins, a lot of time to make up given the relatively short distance left in the race.
Meanwhile, in Nome, we have the top 25 finishers all under the burled arch, reportedly enjoying the sunshine and "warm" temps (although I can imagine anything above 0F is a welcome reprieve for this crew). Norwegian Thomas Waerner kept his edge over Canadian Jason Campeau to claim Rookie of the Year with his 17th place finish in 9 days 18 hours. There have been no additional scratches, so we still have a total field of 68 teams with 43 of them still out on the trail. After 10 days, our current red lantern is in Unalakleet and facing another 260 miles of Alaskan wilderness.
Our friend Charley Bejna, who had been running a great deal of the race with the twins, took an extensive rest of over 14 hours in Koyuk. I was happy to see he finally pulled out of that checkpoint with 10 dogs in harness,and is currently midway between Elim and White Mountain in 33rd place. Our friend Scott Janssen is out of Shaktoolik and reported in 47th place.
Like many things about the Iditarod, there have been changes over the years. The frequency with which mushers travel the trail together in small packs is greatly diminished, now the exception instead of the norm. This Alaska Dispatch News article discusses the phenomenon, singling Anna and Kristy out as some of the few that moved along together this year. That may no longer be the popular trend, but you'll have a very hard time convincing me this negatively impacted their performance. And you'll never convince me this makes them less cool!
GPS currently has the twins moving along the trail at race mile 925 and averaging around 7mph. At this rate, they should still get into Nome by 9pm Alaska time tonight. Stay tuned!