I'm settled into the Coast Hotel in Los Anchorage for the evening. Tomorrow will be the easiest day of the weekend, I think. I have an 8:30 appointment at Alaska Native Medical Center and an afternoon appointment to pick up my Transportation Worker's Identification Credential (TWIC) card. With more than half of the State's population in or near, Anchorage truly qualifies as a "big city" by anyone's reckoning, and I don't find it to be a particularly comfortable place.
Reading some of the race commentary has been interesting this evening. It seems like some of the usual 'pundits' believe that this is Jeff's King's race, and anyone else is only racing for second place. I don't think Lance Mackey believes that, though. King left the checkpoint at Cripple at 5:21 this evening with 15 dogs. Lance left only 42 minutes behind him. Lance is down to 13 dogs, but that is more than enough dog power to keep his skinny butt moving right along.
Taking into account the 24 hour lay-overs, currently Hugh Neff is in true second place, Mitch Seavey in Third and Sebastian Schnuelle in 4th. They are followed by Sven Haltman, Sonny Lindner, Hans Gatt, Rick Swenson, Ray Redington Jr, and Cim Smyth. Smyth arrived in Cripple with 7 hours of Jeff King, so it's still safe to say that it can be anybody's race at this point. Gerry Willomitzer and Aliy Zirkle are just a few miles outside of Cripple according to the GPS tracker. Dallas Seavey and John Baker, taking their 24 hour lay-overs in Cripple, are eligible to leave shorting after 1 am, so it's possible they could be mixing it up with the top 20 teams before I awaken.
Early front runner Linwood Fiedler has scratched from the race. Although he had 11 dogs on the gang line he said he only had 9 that were truly running well. He decided to scratch for the safety and health of his team.
With so many top-class teams and mushers running so closely together at the front of the pack this is quickly becoming one of the most exciting Iditarod's in history. I've frequently said there are at least 20 teams capable of winning this race, and this year all 20 of them, plus a few more, are doing their level best to prove the point.