It was an exceptionally busy day for me at work, leaving little time to follow the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Fortunately, it was not a busy day out on the Iditarod trail, as the majority of mushers settled in to take their required 24 hour (plus start differential) layovers. Today Martin Buser took advantage of his early layover by marching past the majority of his competitors. Even the most conservative mushers believe Martin has gained at least a four-hour advantage over the next closest team. On the other hand, he dropped 2 of his 16 dogs at Takotna before mushing on Ophir, where he settled in for a bit of rest at the checkpoint.
Lance Mackey, Sonny Lindner and Jeff King have delayed their layovers. There is speculation that Lance is racing for some of the midway prizes to help make up some of the money he lost by scratching from last month’s Yukon Quest. If he is first to the Yukon River at Anvik, he can earn $7000.00 and a gourmet meal sponsored by the Millenium Hotel. He left Ophir, technically in first place, at 5:45 this morning, but of course he still owes the race those 24 hours.
Aaron Burmeister will be eligible to leave Takotna sometime around 9:00 tonight, and Aliy Zirkle will be less than an hour behind him. She will be pursued, too closely for comfort, by Mitch Seavey who has consistently been posting faster run times than she. The fact is, there are so many formidable teams all grouped together and scheduled to leave very closely together that it is still impossible to declare any of them as having a distinct advantage. This is turning out to be a very close race indeed.
There is some sad news to report tonight. On Monday a Cessna 182 piloted by Ted Smith of Eagle River departed for the Iditarod checkpoint of Takotna where the passengers, Carolyn Sorvoja and her 10 year old daughter, Rosemarie, hoped to volunteer. The aircraft only made it as far as Rainy Pass. Yesterday the wreckage was spotted at about the 4,000 foot level of the pass. All of the occupants were killed.