Our friend Paul was reported out of Elim earlier today with 10 dogs in harness and in 15th place. Per the GPS tracker, he's closing in on White Mountain. Rookie Joar Leifseth Ulsom was last reported in 6th place, an impressive spot for a first-timer. 8 mushers are now out of the race, leaving 58 active on the trail. Some mushers still have 13 - 16 dog teams, while the majority seem to be in the 10 - 12 dog range. A couple are down to 8 dogs. Remember, you must have 6 dogs in harness when you cross the finish.
From Shaktoolik, Anna, Kristy, and their dogs will cross Norton Sound and go on to Koyuk. This 50 or so miles of trail is notoriously windy and monotonous. I'll repost a quick video clip that the twins took during this stretch last year at the end of this post to illustrate. I expect the twins will take a 6 hour rest in Koyuk before pressing on to Elim.
The race had been on track for a record-breaking finish. But Mother Nature had other designs. Imagine going from +40 F, getting soaked in rain and crossing rivers, only to head into -10 F, snow, and wind. Kristy described the weather in a recent Insider clip as, "a mixed bag of everything!" That takes a toll on mushers and dogs. The twins also talked about their position in the race during that clip. Although they're happy with the pace their teams have maintained, they said they're farther back in the pack than they would have thought or hoped. The race is just that fast this year. Plus, the twins are both running very young dog teams. Think of it like climbing Mount Everest with a bunch of 7 year olds.
Here are a pics from the trail, as well as the rewind to Norton Sound.