I used to pronounce that at this point in the race that you could be pretty sure that the sequence in which the teams come into Unalakleet is how they will eventually cross the finish line. That theory hasn’t held up over the past few years and this year…. holy cow! Who knows? Obviously, Lance’s spot is secured and he will always have a trail, as promised by the race committee. Everyone else is on their own. It appears as those six teams that left UNK virtually together are in for some slow going and trail breaking. The wind has hit the coast and will provide the stage for more Iditarod endurance stories. A close friend is working the Shaktoolik checkpoint. Her report last night was, “I can’t believe that anyone would stop here!” However, it truly is the only friendly spot to rest in the 12 hour run between UNK and Koyuk.
One of the coolest things to see is that the first three teams leaving UNK all had 15 dogs; once again a testament to our increasing knowledge of care for these incredible athletes. Though the number of dogs in the team doesn’t necessarily equate to a race advantage at this point, it can be a mental advantage for sure. It is emotionally difficult for the mushers to send any of their crew home. They are so connected that it feels like loosing a puzzle piece.
I have been waiting for a call from a friend in UNK to get the real skinny on how all the teams looked there. It is always nice to get a more personal report. Hopefully that call will come soon and I will be sure to post a message. I head up to Fairbanks in the early morning for my flight to Nome. This year will be very different: we will have none of our girls in Nome and I will only be there for two days. I fly to Seattle in the wee hours of Friday for a three day agility competition, a visit with Cali and Matt and to hook up with Tessa. Then Tessa and I head to North Carolina for the AKC Agility Nationals. Exciting! I’m hoping for some sunshine in Charlotte… : )
Meanwhile, with 200 miles left in the 2009 Iditarod, keep taking deep breathes as we watch this adventure unfold.