Iditarod Update # 6 - Halfway Through
11:30 am Alsaka Time March 10 I apologize for not writing an update earlier today, but things are quite busy on all fronts (as usual). As i write this, Ken is making good time approaching the halfway point at Cripple. I expect he will arive in ninth place, about 1/2 hour behind Brent Sass. It is great to see him hanging with the top of the field at this point in the race, although the number of mushers still in contention at this point is quite large. By my estimate however, Ken is very much stilll in the mix and will probably leave Cripple at about the same time as Dallas Seavey. I estimate he is right about even with the true race leaders, who right now I am going to go out on a limb and say are Mitch Seavey and Pete Kaiser. They are both still playing the speed card so I expect them to continue to be a bit conservative, but both teams are smoking down the trail. Pete is now posting an average moving speed from the start at 8.9 mph. That is really quite remarkable.
Ken did call and leave a message from a satellite phone during his 24 hour layover. It was great to hear his voice, but I was bummed out that I missed picking up the phone since there was no way to call back. The two dogs he dropped were Standard and Kenji, which is too bad because they aer both very key dogs. He didn't provide any detail on why he dropped them, but from his voice he Tidn't seem too concerned. thanks to Julie and Todd for taking care of these guys when they get back to Anchorage.
Ken said he was planning an interesting strategy for his next couple of runs, which the more I think about it, I really like. The mushers are required to take a mandatory break of 8 hours somewhere on the Yukon River, between the checkpoints of Ruby and Kaltag. Most teams will probably run straight from Cripple to Ruby, which took Jeff King 10 hours, and take their 8 hour break there. Ken said he plans to stop short of Ruby, and essentially break the run between Cripple and Galena (the checkpoint after Ruby) into two equal - 8 hour legs. Or possibly 7 and 9, and then take his 8 hour layover in Galena. The main advantage here is twofold - slightly shorter runs to preserve speed, and he completely avoids running through the middle of the afternoon, which front teams taking their layover in Ruby will need to do. In fact, I suspect others will think of this as well and will employ it, so don't be surprised to see some more leapfrogging.
7:30pm Alaska Time. It appears I forgot to send out the update (above) I wrote earlier today, so I will add an addendum. Ken left Cripple a couple hours ago after 5 hours of rest, and is currently headed down the trail sandwiched between the two Seaveys. Not a bad place to be just past the halfway point. I am sure he is getting a good adrenalin kick out of it. And I just took my second screenshot of the race showing Ken in fourth place. Looking Good!