The Yukon River will be a defining factor in this year’s race. We can already see the drama unfolding before us as the teams come off their 8 hour breaks in Ruby. Ruby is a popular spot to take this mandatory stop because of the long trail from Ophir, through Cripple, to hit this first village on the river.
All reports about Jeff and our team from Ruby sounded awesome. Their run time into Galena last night was strong and indicates more speed available than Lance had on his run on the same trail. (The mystery is how did Paul do it in half the time? Inflatable wings???). I believe it was in 1993 when Jeff boldly did the run down the Yukon, from Ruby to Kaltag, in only two runs. I don’t believe it had been done before… or at least not successfully. That move positioned him for his first Iditarod win. We see that Lance appears to be making the same dynamic attempt to put more time between himself and the teams in the chase. Exciting!
The stats now will give us a very clear idea of the strength of each of the teams. In addition, we will not see such variable run/rest schedules amongst the teams which will also making it easier for us spectators to follow the race progression more accurately. We can now finally put our calculators away and watch.
I have to comment on the fact that Jeff left Galena with 16 dogs. It really is almost unbelievable! I know that is totally thrilled about it!
Ed Iten also has a team of 16. Very cool!!
If I had to choose a position to be in at this point in the race, I would choose exactly where Jeff is…. well, maybe a tad closer to Lance! There is a lot of pressure being in the lead of such a powerful event, always looking over your shoulder, especially when you have such strong teams hot on your heels. We know that Lance is undoubtedly up for the job, but Jeff has a very together team at this point and I am sure the Lance can feel the heat. If Jeff’s team can consistently run faster than Lance’s, then within a few runs they will have made up the time differential without having to make too rash a move.
Time will tell….