Iditarod Update # 3: Marching Toward Nikolai
Ken stopped at Tin Creek as he planned, after passing through Rohn at 11:08 pm, still apparently with all 16 of his dogs. He pulled over for a 5 hour rest at 1:35am, sharing the spot with Dallas and Mitch Seavey for awhile until they each moved down the trail after 3 and 3 1/2 hours of rest respectively. This means his total run time from Rainy Pass was 7 hours - a little longer than he might have liked, but he is maintaining a very solid and consistant average moving speed of 8.4 mph. The fasted moving averages in the top teams include Pete Kaiser, at 8.8 mph, and Robert Sorlie and Lance Mackey at 8.7 mph each. Ken is about 21-25 miles or 3 hours behind these 3 speedsters, but when you take into account the starting time differentials, Ken is about an hour behind Peter, 2 hours behind Robert, and slightly over 2 hours behind Lance right now. That's not bad at this point in the race. Of course, each of these teams is running a relatively conservative strategy trying to maintain their speed advantage. Other teams are resting less, and running slower - basically employing a marching strategy that can work well on an easy, hard packed trail like this year's course appears to be.
I thought I would share some information about the dogs in Ken's team in this update:
Regret - A veteran 7 year old female who has been nursing a bit of a sore wrist all year. She is in great shape. Likes to play tricks in lead, especially with an inexperienced musher but is a solid go-to leader when she can smell the finish line, or is otherwise in the limelight. Her nickname is "Princess" so I guess that says it all!
Standard - 8 year old male, also a go-to leader who finished the Iditarod in lead last year. He seems to get tougher and better the further in the race he gets. He's finished every race he's ever started, and ran his first iditarod at age 2.
Ninja - 6 year old female. What she lacks in brains she more than makes up in heart and has finished every race she has run and has energed as a solid, hard-driving leader. She is an unassuming sweetheart of a dog and Ken really loves her.
Geisha - 5 year old pretty black and white female who can be a bit of a stinker that can pull Regret-like tricks in lead but is very steady, and has also finished every 1000-mile race she has run. She and her 4 siblings that follow are 1/8th German Shorthair Pointer.
Hannah - Geisha's sister, also a leader and has finished a number of 1000-mile races. She is less of a punk and more of a pleaser than Geisha. She started in lead from Willow.
Kenji - Hannah and Geisha's brother and Ken's current rock-star leader. Strikingly athletic, Kenji is a big, black, smooth-coated male with a sweet disposition who likes to please. He'll probably run in lead the most, and left the start line up fromt with his sister.
Guru - Another littermate, he is also a very good leader. Guru is not as fast as his siblings, but often winds up in lead at the end, and finished last year's Iditarod in lead with Standard.
Bonzai - Another littermate who also leads, Bonzai is a goofy, unassuming male who sometime seems like a real space cadet in lead, and then suprises you when the chips are down. When it matters, he suddenly pays attention and metamorphoses into a great gee-haw leader.
Top - a 5 year old male we purchased from Kevin Cook 2 years ago. Top is a super hard-driving leader and finished the Iditarod last year, but barely because he works so hard. Ken thinks he could be a key contributor to the speed factor in this year's race, since he drives so hard.
Fuzz - a 4 year old male we also purchased from the Cooks. Fuzz is not a pretty dog to look at, but has emerged as a top leader after Ken tried to sell him for the last 2 years without success. He seemed to have a hard time finishing races because he worked too hard, but he finished Iditarod last year and Ken has a lot of hope for him in teaming up with his buddy Top as Ken's speed leader combo team.
Percy - A 4 year old male who is kind of a drama king (he squeals when you put booties on!), but when it comes to his job he takes it very seriously - especially late in the race. He is a rare leader in that even when he is tired, he drives a hard pace and kicks the team up a gear when he is up front.
Scruff - a 3 year old shy male with a big heart. He is the best eater in the team (Ken has to watch him to make sure he doesn't get too fat). He is a strict wheel dog, who is basically blind due to juvenile onset cataracts he has probably dealt with his whole life. According to our vet, he can probably only see shadows but is incredibly agile for a wheel dog. He is the biggest dog in the team and can jump over towlines very well. He is also the most outspoken dog in the team, a great cheerleader from behind. Ken's heart goes out to him, and he hopes he finishes. Ken thinks he will do great.
Emil - A 3 year old male named after our son Leif's middle name, and Gwen's grandfather. He is a strikingly handsome black male with an esy gait and a great attitude. He seems to win the hearts of all the ladies, since he is a real lover with lots of personality.
Jerry - One of three 2 year old brothers in the race, Jerry is a happy sweet little energizer bunny that never seems to get tired. He is an easy keeper, with incredible recovery time. He can run anywhere but lead, mostly runs toward the back of the team.
Junior - Brother to Jerry, Junior is a hard pulling bruiser of a dog with a beautiful trot. He is the growliest dog in the whole team and most likely to pick a fight, so Ken will be keeping a close eye on him.
Jack - another brother to Jerry and Junior, Jack is a medium sized grey male and one of the most beautifully built dogs Ken has ever seen. He is strikingly balanced and has a real presence about him that grabs other musher's attention. He is very powerful, loves to go, has great recovery time, a smooth gait, and loves the taste of necklines!
That's Ken's team!!! Gwen