Friday, March 9, 2012

Back on track?

Yesterday was much easier to manage than was Wednesday.  I was able to get the cabin heater to the repair shop, and did some grocery shopping in North Pole that was needed.  I helped my friend get her car unstuck from her driveway with a bit of mechanical help from the dog truck.  The process of shoveling out paths, dog houses and all that sort of thing continued without any major set backs, so overall it was a very productive day for me.  The kennel is still isolated from the trail system due to snow, but I have a pair of good snowshoes, and the postponement of the Two Rivers 200 buys me some free time, so I may break out a trail with paws and be able to give dogs some runs within a day or two.

Out on the Iditarod trail, the "mid-game" of the annual chess match seems to be in full swing as front runners jockey for position.  This morning Mitch Seavey pulled into Ruby in first place at straight-up 6:00.  Dallas Seavey arrived second at 7:07.  According to the GPS tracker he is followed closely by his John Baker, Aaron Burmeister, Aliy Zirkle, Jeff King, Dee Dee Jonrowe, Sonny Lindner, Sigrid Ekran, and Ray Redington Jr. .  We don't want to rely too much on the Tracker, as batteries can die, satellite signals can be lost and other technical glitches can occur.   Once the leader board has been updated we'll have a better feel for true position in the race.

According to the Alaskan Dispatch, Mitch made a long run to gain the lead, but will probably lose it very quickly.   According to the Dispatch article, Seavey said that his strategy was to make longer runs in the hopes that he would gain time on the other teams, but the longer runs didn't amount to the lead he hoped to build.  As a result of the longer runs, he said, his team has a “rest deficit,” which he plans to knock down by staying in Ruby at least 8 hours.  “Dallas is going to be way faster than me now,” Mitch Seavey said. “There's a lot more to it than just being here first. (I) paid a price to do it.”

From Ruby the trail travels down the Yukon River.   I'm not as familiar with river trails as I am with overland trails in the Interior so I'm not a good judge of what we might expect.  Those trails do receive more traffic than the overland trails, so I imagine they are in better condition and the teams will truck along at a faster pace.  At this point, even Mitch Seavey admits that his son, Dallas, has a stronger team.  He said he was surprised Dallas didn't pass him on the trail, and when asked who has the better team he said, “He didn't used to, but I bet you a dollar he does now.”

Let's keep in mind, however, that everyone has to declare and take an 8 hour layover somewhere on the River and Mitch is a highly experienced player in this game.  By downplaying the condition of his dogs and taking his mandatory layover early, he may be be thinking he can gain a competitive advantage and opportunity to pass other teams while they are taking their own layovers further down the river.

Here at the house it is an overcast morning, and the forecast is calling for some more snow.  I'm going to feed and scoop this morning and then decide how the rest of the day can be spent most productively.  

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