Monday, March 14, 2016

Seavey Squared battling for Nome.

In what is becoming somewhat of an Iditarod tradition, Dallas Seavey led the charge out of Elim on his way to White Mountain. He didn't stay long in Elim, just grabbed his stuff and went. Brent Sass and Mitch Seavey also spent just a few minutes in Elim grabbing/dumping gear before chasing after Dallas. Just a few miles separated each team, though Dallas widened his lead going through the hills. Dallas is a very athletic musher treating himself as the 17th team member rather than his dad's philosophy of being the coach. Mitch was predictably slower in that same area - he's "older" so he just can't keep up with the 29 year old. Brent's team slowed considerably in the run to White Mountain and gave Dallas nearly 2 hours.

So here we are - all three rested their 8 and were granted their leave. Dallas had just under a 40 minute lead on his dad. Now the two are 5 to 6 miles apart. That's a lot of distance to make up, but Mitch has traveled faster than Dallas at every portion of the race. Not by a whole lot, but by a good amount. It looks like Mitch has gained at least 2 miles on the kid, and that's through the hilly parts. Dallas knows he has a competitor in his dad. He will be looking over his shoulder and pushing his team all the way to Nome. That's a 77 mile run, and we just saw Brent Sass' team quit on him.

That's right, Brent Sass is still in White Mountain, he got them up after their 8 hour rest and couldn't motivate them to really go anywhere. Even after dropping 3 dogs to hopefully just use the ones that were a little more awake, he just didn't get the momentum needed. Sebastian Schnuelle reports that after a talk with Race Judge (and former Iditarod racer) Karen Ramstead, Sass has decided to give his dogs another hour or two and see how they feel.

This is not the first time a lead team has quit on their musher. Jeff King has had it happen several times since coming back to the race. Young dogs running long runs, and strong winds coming directly at them for the last two days, have a tendency to get discouraged and tired. Brent is a GREAT dog driver. He just felt he could and needed to push the lead he had on the Yukon and up the coast. He "pushed the throttle" too soon. He knew it coming into Koyuk, but he left out of that checkpoint sooner than he wanted because Dallas and Mitch left.

Still, this is what Brent wanted 2 years ago, to be up against the Seavey's and he very nearly beat them. He's tasted it, he's probably already working on what to improve on and do differently. He's seen how Dallas unleashed his monster over the last two days. He's seen what a dog team can do even with an older musher on the back. If he can create a hybrid of the two, he could very well take it all.

Sure, this isn't the perfect race - Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle should have been in the mix. Jeff was on the right trajectory especially to go for his 5th win. But that does not diminish what Seavey Squared or Brent Sass were able to do in the last 48 hours.

Idita-mathematicians smarter than I am have suggested anywhere from 3-4am (Alaska Time) for the winner to cross under the burled arch. I will be waking at 2:30am to check on the trackers. I drank a Dr. Pepper this morning. I am not drinking any tonight. I need to be able to sleep some as I work tomorrow. This work thing is cramping my Iditarod viewing, as you can tell by the lack of posts I've made on my blog this year. Ugh.

So I'll see you possibly at 2:30... or 3... or 3:30... or 4...

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