After pulling out of Fairbanks Monday afternoon, the twins would have had excited dog teams on their hands for the 60 miles of brisk mushing on the frozen Tanana River on their way to Nenana. But the half bales of straw they carried for their planned camp just before the next checkpoint would have made the sled a little heavier. Apparently a good portion of this section of trail runs tightly through the trees, affording few places to pull over or pass other teams. The twins ran this stretch in about 8 1/2 hours. The majority of teams ran it in 5 hours and change, but they most likely didn't camp along the trail. Those are the teams reporting 3ish hours of rest in the Nenana checkpoint, while the twins blew through in under 15 minutes. They both retained all 16 dogs on their teams.
After quickly picking up supplies, Anna and Kristy planned another camp not far outside of Nenana. They hit the trail just after 10pm, which must have made for a wicked cold night. In fact, although the twins had not planned on carrying phones, sponsor GCI provided extra tough CAT phones for their journey, so they figured they would add a modern element to the adventure. While I don't expect to hear much nor often, I have gotten a couple of texts. One was of their mercury thermometer, so I happen to know the definition of wicked cold... -50F / -45C. The other picture was of one of their dog teams napping contentedly in the sun. I presume this was taken after they reached the checkpoint of Manley Hot Springs a little after noon on Tuesday, some 14 hours after leaving the prior checkpoint (a not uncommon time to be out on this 90 mile stretch of trail).
The twins took a 5 hour break in Manley before pulling out a little after 5pm. Kristy mentioned in her final text to me that Anna was dropping Pilot in Manley for a sore pectoral muscle, so I was a little surprised to see Anna drop 3 dogs in total in this checkpoint. I will post an update when I know more on the dropped dogs, but for now I can say this ~ both Anna and Kristy err on the side of caution when it comes to their dogs. If any are showing signs of something they don't think they can work out quickly and easily, they don't take any chances and leave the dog in the care of vets at a checkpoint.
Case in point, Kristy also dropped one dog in Manley. This left her pulling out of this checkpoint, race mile 161, with 15 dogs on the line. Anna had 13. They spent nearly 12 hours mushing the 66 miles from Manley to Tanana, which I know included a 2 hour camp. They arrived in Tanana a little after 5am Wednesday morning, now 227 race miles into their journey.
Tanana is reportedly a very nice checkpoint offering some warm food and a great deal of friendly hospitality, and the twins - like many mushers - hunkered down for a good 6 1/2 hour morning rest here. Before hitting the trail, Anna dropped one more dog in Tanana, leaving 12 on the line, while Kristy retained 15 dogs. Leaving this checkpoint meant starting their time on the mighty Yukon River, a frozen highway that can be up to 3 or even 4 miles wide at points. This section can also be brutally cold, and there are reports Wednesday night could bring -26F out on the trail. But further reports indicate some clouds are due to roll in and this could well mark the last of the worst deep cold the mushers will see on the trail.
It will take the twins a while to mush the long section of trail to Ruby, especially as they have at least one camp planned along the way (and no, there isn't a tent or a cabin... just some straw they will have hauled with them and a bunch of warm cuddly dogs). Also look for them to take a good rest upon reaching Ruby. That will be race mile 346, or about one third of their journey... I'd say they earned it.