For whatever reason, Anna has been lagging Kristy by at least an hour since pulling out of the earlier checkpoint of Nikolai, and the gap has been gradually increasing. Kristy reached Kaltag a full 4 hours before Anna, and while her run times have been good, it seems Anna has been taking slightly longer rests (an extra hour in Nulato, for example). Am I curious what's going on? Sure. Am I concerned? Not really. The twins have had overlap in each checkpoint, which I know will have given them a chance to compare notes. And Kristy continues to pull out ahead of Anna, something I know she wouldn't do if there were any real serious concerns. Maybe the banged up hip Anna got in the Burn is acting up and warranting a little more rest. Maybe her dogs picked up a little stomach bug, as common amongst dog teams as it is for kids in the classroom. Whatever the case, they're both still moving up the trail, starting the 8th day of their journey.
It's 85 miles from Kaltag to Unalakleet, and marks the final transition from the inland river environment to the Bering Sea Coast. It's also the longest stretch between two checkpoints in this year's northern route. Those who have already completed it this year have done so in anywhere from 9 to 17 hours, and I expect it will take the twins at least 15-17. Keep in mind, part of that time will be spent camping out, their likely stop Old Woman Camp about 50 miles out of Kaltag.
Official weather reports still show things hovering around 0F, but I suspect it is colder and windier out on some of the portages making up this part of the trail. There will be plenty of ice, and I'm sure the twins will put the ice cleats they packed to good use.
There are still 53 teams on the trail. Leaders Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle pulled out of Koyuk (race mile 804) within a minute of each other late Sunday afternoon, with a Buser, 2 Seaveys, and a Lindner not far behind. Back in Ruby, a full 300 miles behind, the back of the pack is still at it. I hope race officials honor their perseverance and allow them to keep racing. We all know the trail has been brutal this year, and 8 of the last 10 teams are rookies. If the dogs are still in good shape, they're sticking together, and making forward progress? Mush on teams, Mush On.