Meanwhile, the twins pulled out of Ophir late Thursday night. They've been on the trail for about 4 days and 6 hours, covering 352 race miles. They are coming fresh off their 24 hour rest and have about 73 miles ahead of them to Cripple. The trail ahead is reported as hard and fast, but at least there is some snow. The Iditarod weather center is reflecting temps -4 to -7F, but one article also mentioned recent lows of -30F overnight in Cripple.
If you have been watching the race standings at all, you can't have missed the volatility in positioning. Part of race strategy is deciding when and where to declare your 24. Mushers usually have a plan in advance so that they can send out the right supplies, but like just about everything in this race, it's subject to change. The 24 is also used to adjust times to equalize the race's 2 minute staggered start.
I saw the twins ranked anywhere from 18th to 44th over the last 24 hours, and as of this writing Kristy was in 42nd and Anna is right behind her in 44th. They're rested and with fresh teams, so their runners should eat up trail fast. The standings for the middle third of the pack should start to stabilize a bit over the next 100 miles.
Kristy pulled into Ophir with 13 dogs and, after a good rest, left with just as many. Anna, in with 12, also hit the trail with the same number of dogs in front of her sled. The dogs would have had a very nice stay in Ophir, cozying up in straw beds with several good meals, massages, visits with vets, and walks to keep them limber and check their gait. I also have an update from Aaron in Anchorage on all of the twins' dropped dogs so far. You'll recall Anna sent Straight home earlier with a sore shoulder, and I now know Slash, Taco, and Zuko headed back to the kennel with the same complaint. Kristy had already sent Jasmine back with a sore back leg, and Senator packed it in for the same reason. Duchess, on the other hand... er, paw, called it quits with a sore toe on her back left foot.
The lead mushers are heading out of Ruby (race mile 495), while the back of the pack is coming out of McGrath, a 166 mile spread. One additional musher scratched as of this writing, leaving 56 teams battling their way down the trail. Most teams still have 12 or more dogs, but a couple are down to 9 and 10.
Run times between Ophir and Cripple have ranged anywhere from 8 to 13 hours so far, so we'll have to wait and see how long it takes the twins. For you Insiders, there is a quick clip of Anna pulling into McGrath on the Iditarod site to pass the time. She and the dogs looked good!
Remember ~ Anna and Kristy aren't taking the weekend off, and neither am I.
Enjoy your Friday and stay tuned over the weekend.
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