It will be interesting to see how each musher's choice of where to 24 pans out, and I don't think there will be any one right answer. It varies for each team... some will take their 24 earlier, hoping the 8hr rest along the Yukon and again at White Mountain will be enough for the remainder of the race. Others, like Aliy and the twins this year, will push to later checkpoints like Ophir, Iditarod, or - in much rarer instances - even further. Mushers have to consider their dogs' needs, the weather and trail conditions they've not only encountered, but what likely lies ahead, race rules on mandatory stops, and their own fatigue. Mushers will also take into account which checkpoints will offer small comforts, like pie in Takotna, or - for those preferring solitude - which checkpoint will be least populated.
Wherever their choice, I can barely fathom how welcome this rest will be.
We have also had the first musher scratch from 2019. Shaynee Traska opted to scratch in Nikolai in the best interests of her dog team, meaning we now have 51 mushers making their way to Nome. We wish Shaynee and her team safe and swift travels back to their home kennel.
Speaking of safe and swift travels, it looks like Kristy dropped her 2nd dog in McGrath, leaving her with 12 dogs in harness. I should have an update from DDC Aaron sometime Thursday as to which dog and why. Anna is still running with a full compliment of 14 dogs. In the rest of the field, one musher is down to 9 dogs, another 11, while everyone else is also still running 12-14 dogs.
While you're waiting for teams to come off their 24s, check out the complete opposite with this footage of Nic Petit blasting through Takotna at night in less than 2 minutes. Kristy and Anna's stop in this village was only slightly longer at 6 and 7 minutes, respectively. What could they possibly dig out of 3 different 50 pound drop bags in that period of time?!
In addition to the below photos, I also encourage you to check out the online article in Vogue featuring 5 Women Racing In This Year's Iditarod. Guess who's featured...!