From Nulato --
The Yukon River is the name of the game in the Iditarod tonight. How to run it. Two runs, three runs? Where to stop? I think it is safe to say that Aliy Zirkle, coming off her 8 hours in Galena, will aim to run all the way to Kaltag. That will be challenging, as the temperatures have been dropping. It is 20 below right now and might sure get colder in pockets along the Yukon River. Mitch and Dallas most likely will skip Galena and than have a cold campout around Bishop rock. The good part, when passing by there a few hours ago, it was calm, no wind, so that should make for good camping. Their other option is to go to Galena, than do a short rest there and than also run all the way to Kaltag. Either way, those two and Aliy should arrive in Kaltag very close to each other.
The challengers after that: Aaron told me that he does not intend to camp at Bishop rock and instead will go to Galena, rest there and than go to Kaltag. That way I doubt if he can make up much time on the front runners, but depending on how fast his team moves, he will still stay within the mix. Jeff King seems to be moving a bit faster. Time will tell which decision he does along the river. John Baker seems to have a bit slower pace, but I assume he is ready to run on very short rests, and with that I mean less than four hours. He did so last year on the Yukon River. DeeDee is also running fast, and still has a good shot at the Top 5 at least.
Notably Ray Redington dropped a bit off the pace, as he seemed to have done the run from Takotna to Ruby in four short runs, instead of 2 or 3 runs like the others and thus fell a bit behind, allowing King and Jonrowe to pass him, as well as Aaron putting in 2.5 hrs lead on him. That will be tough to overcome, unless he decides to really rest short along the River.
If I were Ray, I would be concerned about the storm brewing behind. Jake Berkowitz and Peter Kaiser have put in exceptionally fast run times from Cripple to Ruby. Most likely they will keep that speed after a long 8 hour rest. So if they decide to skip Galena and do a fast run half way up the River, that could close in quite a bit of distance. The Top 10 is for sure not sorted out yet. Ken Anderson also has stormed in from behind. And he is know to close strong and take long runs up the coast.
None of these front guys will get any slack in the upcoming miles and keep us on the edge of our seats. Tomorrow I hope to drop back in the field and take a first hand closer look at the Top 20 teams, before continuing to Kaltag.
Earlier post from Nulato
Ahead of the teams. Looks like its going to be a cold night, would not be surprised if it hits 40 below. So we are better off here, to see the teams come by tomorrow and than hopefully have a chance to get the machines started in the afternoon. Obviously this morning, I miscalculated Jeff King, he is for sure part of the front group. He was very confident in Ruby, that he would catch the front runners. He sure seems to play the speed card. Aaron Burmeister came off a long 15 hr run into Ruby and dropped Todd, still having 15 dogs. I will look a bit more at strategy in a bit...