Once Anna pulls out of Ophir and starts the southern trail loop, she and the dogs will have 75-80 miles of trail separating them from the next checkpoint of Iditarod, race mile 432. Given the length of this run, they'll stop to camp along the way, likely at a small shelter cabin. They'll carry straw out of Ophir for this, so the sleds will be fully loaded. Upon reaching Iditarod, a ghost town from the gold rush days, they'll have reached what is popularly, although not technically, considered to be the halfway point of the race when run on the southern route. The twins had planned to take their 24 hour mandatory rest in Iditarod, and so far that plan appears intact.
Meanwhile, the leader board last had Kristy and Andy out of Takotna, but the GPS trackers show them pulling into Ophir to join Anna. Kristy has been traveling with Andy along the trail, and I'll have to remember to tease them a bit about this unusual honeymoon (they just tied the knot in July). Although not traveling closely together this year, the twins' statistics are still very similar. I will say that Andy and Kristy slowed their pace a bit after Rohn, taking a bit more time both running between and resting in the subsequent checkpoints. Not surprising, as Anna does have the more competitive dog racing team among the three. Kristy has only dropped one so far, leaving her 15 to care for out on the trail. Andy finally dropped his first dog in Nikolai, leaving him with 15 dogs also on the gang line.
Conditions out on the trail have been very warm by Iditarod standards, with people posting pictures of thermometers hovering around the freezing point. There's been plenty of snow, but the temps keep it soft and slow. There were reports of some really deep snow between Nikolai and McGrath from the storm that went through, prompting some teams to declare their 24 in the latter checkpoint even if earlier than planned to give both themselves and their dogs a break. Iditarod Insider interviews with mushers are also revealing stories of knee deep water crossings along the trail. Just goes to show, mushers can and will encounter just about every variety of winter weather imaginable out there.
You may be curious why I have yet to mention the twins' respective rank in any one checkpoint yet, and there's a good reason why. At this point in the race, where one is positioned on the leader board means very little. Mushers can take their 24 hour anywhere on the trail, which leads to a lot of leapfrogging around as some teams stop and others pass them, only to later stop themselves and find its their turn to watch teams mush by. Each musher's 24 is also adjusted to make up for the 2-minute interval start. So Anna, as Bib #4, will have to tack 2 minutes on to her 24 for each musher that started behind her (63 x 2 = an extra 126 minutes). Only Hugh Neff, the 67th musher off the start, will rest for a true 24. So let's just keep track on where the twins are at for now, and leave the leader board for later when we see the top 30 teams have all checked it off their list.
There are still only 2 scratched teams, leaving 65 on the trail to Nome.