Enough mushers have satisfied their 24 hour requirement that I'm willing to talk about position again. While Joar is still at the top of the leader board as of this writing, he's sitting out his 24. A long list of mushers are closing in and will soon pass him, including Nic Petit, Mitch Seavey, Jeff King, and a host of other well known names. Most teams coming off their 24s have 13 or more dogs on the gang line. The front of the pack is into Iditarod or close to it. There are still only 2 scratched teams, leaving 65 racing down the trail. The back of the pack is into McGrath as of this writing, leaving the teams spread out across over 120 miles.
Kristy and Andy should be out of Ophir fresh off their 24s a few hours after Anna, and I'll be very curious to see if they drop any dogs. Our "DDC" Jack is getting off easy so far this year, especially with Seeing Double having 3 dog teams out on the trail.
From Ophir, the teams face the long 75-80 mile run to Iditarod, not to mention a daunting 640+ miles to the finish. They've already been out there for over 4 days.
The weather remains very warm by Iditarod standards, hovering around freezing during the day, and trail reports keep coming back with creative renditions of snow and slow. One musher described the snow as 'deep, really deep, and bottomless'. That will reduce the amount of really technical sled driving required, as the mushers are pulled more slowly through a sea of mashed potatoes.
I expect it will take Anna 15-17 hours of mostly nighttime mushing to get from Ophir to Iditarod, putting her into that checkpoint in the early hours Friday morning. I'll be thinking about lunch. She'll pull over to camp trailside for at least 3 hours along the way. I expect a similar run time, maybe skewed to the end of that range, for Kristy and Andy only a few hours behind Anna.
Here are some more pics of Seeing Double teams out on the trail to tide you over until my next update. Fair warning ~ barring breaking news, my Friday evening post will be brief, if it is crafted at all. But I'll be back Saturday and Sunday with race updates and a couple of weekend special editions.