We last had the twins pulling out of Nulato late Sunday morning. They mushed away their afternoon, arriving in Kaltag about four and a half hours later. They may have decided not to ask their dog teams to haul straw out of this checkpoint to camp or were lured by a few creature comforts. Whatever the case, instead of pushing through and hanging trailside, they rested in checkpoint for nearly five hours. Each twin dropped one dog, leaving Kristy with 10 in harness and Anna with 9. I suspect these decisions were conservative in nature, and not due to any more serious injury, given the long run ahead of them and the number of checkpoints since either twin dropped a dog.
And a long run it is... The run from Kaltag to Unalakleet is the longest between any two checkpoints on the northern route at 85 miles. The twins opted to hit the trail Sunday night around 8:30pm and spent 15 hours and 20 minutes overnight en route, arriving just before noon on Monday. I expect Kristy and Anna to rest here for 5-6 hours before tackling the next 40 miles to Shaktoolik, a stretch that will have them going through the Blueberry Hills and encountering colder, windier weather.
Dropped Dog Update: All of our furry friends back at the kennel have been joined by Hound from Anna's team. He's back with a sore wrist, having been dropped in Cripple. And I can say with complete conviction that if I had just run 425 miles as he had, a sore wrist would be the least of my complaints! But he will rest up just fine. We await updates on the two dogs dropped in Kaltag. From there, we'll have to wait for the twins to get into Nome themselves to learn about any dogs dropped from Unalakleet on, as this begins the point in the race where dropped dogs are sent on to Nome to await their friends, rather than back to Anchorage.
Speaking of Nome, it won't be long before we have this year's winner. Three mushers are into White Mountain as of this writing and taking their final mandatory 8-hour rest ~ Dallas Seavey, his dad Mitch Seavey, and Brent Sass. Dallas was first to arrive Monday morning at 9:48am. Looking quickly at his 2014 run times (his last time on this route), he required 10 hours and 13 minutes on the trail from there to pull under the burled arch. Assuming he pulls his snow hook as soon as he can and runs at least the same speed (and it's the same mileage, which isn't guaranteed exact), this 29 year old could claim his 4th Iditarod win by 4am Alaska time Tuesday morning. He might even trump his 2014 race time, which is the current fastest winning time in the race's history at 8 days 13 hours 4 minutes and 19 seconds. Only time will tell. And in a race like this? 77 miles to go, his dad only 39 minutes behind him and with more dogs? Time could tell a lot.
And what might time tell for the twins? I sharpened my pencil, and here goes ~ time for your Mad Blogger to crawl out on the proverbial limb and make my prediction for Anna and Kristy's finish... Looking at prior years, factoring in what the twins told me were their target rest times, adjusting for how closely they've stuck to those targets thus far, eyeballing run times of teams ahead of them, taking the square root of dogpower times Pi...
Wait, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, Nome. Look for the twins to make a St. Patrick's Day appearance and pull under the burled Arch Thursday morning around 4-5am Alaska time.
Until then, here are some images from the trail of what Kristy and Anna can expect over the coming miles.