Although the race awards the halfway prize in Cripple (won by Aaron Burmeister on Wednesday this year), I consider Ruby, as race mile 495 of 975 in the northern route, the real halfway point when it comes to Kristy and Anna's journey. And it may feel like the twins just took their 24 hour, but they've also put 140 miles under their runners since then. As race rules mandate an 8 hour rest be declared and taken by each team at a checkpoint on the Yukon River, I wasn't too surprised to see the twins take theirs in Ruby.
Conditions have definitely changed pretty dramatically from early in the race. The trail now has consistent snow cover and "hard and fast" shows up repeatedly in condition reports. Sebastian Schnuelle, blogging on the Iditarod.com site, comments, "Traveling on the Yukon River has been really nice. There is a slight breeze out there from the north, but luckily the snow is really hard packed. There is not much loose snow to blow around and the going for the mushers is good." Temps are also holding at lower levels, staying below 0F over this stretch.
Kristy is reported in 40th out of Ruby, still with 12 dogs, while Anna is in 41st and still with 11. The twins have 50 miles to cover between Ruby and Galena, and, fresh off their 8-hour rest, I'm hoping they do it in under 6 hours. The below pictures should give you a pretty good idea of what Anna and Kristy are seeing along this stretch. From Galena, they'll have 37 miles to Nulato and then another 47 miles to Kaltag (race mile 629), which will mark the end of their Yukon River run and mark the beginning of their push to the Bering Sea coast.
Which is exactly where the race leaders are as of this writing. Five mushers are all out of Kaltag, all have completed their 24 and 8 hour rests, and are running 11, 12, or 14 dog teams ~ Aliy Zirkle, followed by Buser, Petit, Lindner, and King. These teams have less than 350 miles to the finish, although most probably have their immediate sites on the next checkpoint of Unalakleet, where the first to arrive claims the Gold Coast Award and $2,500 in gold nuggets.
Those 5 front runners are among 54 total teams still out on the trail. Two more scratched since my last update, among them veteran Ramey Smyth, citing an illness in his team. The spread between the leaders and laggards is now some 250 miles, and there's an interesting article in the Alaska Dispatch discussing what that might mean for the latter.
In addition to the below photos, if you're hungry for more to help pass the weekend, here are a few other things you might want to check out:
- Visit the Iditarod Photo Gallery for a lot of great pictures, including some of Kristy, by Jeff Schultz:
* March 7 (A) ~ Kristy and her dogs in Cripple.
* March 5 (C) ~ Kristy on the trail between Takotna and Ophir.
* March 5 (B) ~ Two of Kristy's dogs... Dolphin and Buck, I think.
- Remember the GoPro footage from Jeff King that I mentioned? It's now available for all to see on YouTube (just click on the link).
- Three mushers answer ADN reader questions before the race start, and one of them is Kristy.
| || |
And although this photo is from the restart, I'm pretty sure that's Nicolas and Honey in lead, both dogs still out on the trail with Kristy.