Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Shhh! They're all sleeping on the Iditarod today!

It was a quiet day on the Iditarod trail. Oh, sure, there was the occasional howling team and the airplanes buzzing around, but no one was really moving. That's because Wednesday was the day most teams chose to took their 24 hour mandatory rest. Teams stretched from Nikolai to Ophir with only two mushers by the end of Wednesday choosing not to take their 24.

Wade Marrs blew through each of the busy napping checkpoints and is now on his way to the half-way point of the ghost town Iditarod. Iditarod was once a bustling community, one of the biggest "cities" in Alaska, during the Gold Rush Era and was the original goal of Joe Redington's race (hence the whole Iditarod Trail Race). Redington's original goal was something similar to what we saw back in 2021 (the Gold Loop Trail) where teams would leave from Knik or Anchorage and head to Iditarod before turning around and coming back. As of Wednesday afternoon Wade was the only musher who had decided to head that direction.

While the first few days of the race slowed teams and thwarted their plans because of the hot sun beating down and warming things up and melting the trail - Wednesday's trail saw cloudy skies that quickly turned to wet snow and freezing rain. It was anyone's guess what sort of trail Marrs and team would find past Ophir and every musher interviewed about what they expected were noting they were waiting to see how Wade did. According to a very recent report from Wade's facebook page, snowmachiners drove all over the trail to Iditarod and so it has been slow going as the dogs and musher try to find the packed trail.

In the back of the pack, Mike Williams Jr. may be the last one on the GPS, but he was one of the first to finish his 24 back in Nikolai. He will now be able to slingshot ahead of others who are still resting in McGrath if he so chooses. Next to last is Gregg Vitello who has yet to take his 24 and if he isn't declaring it now in McGrath he's looking at falling even further behind. 

Richie Diehl was the first out of Takotna after his 24 with Ryan Redington out three minutes later. Both teams were amped as they left, Redington's team angrily barking when Diehl's team left without them. Before they left as the teams started to rise as they prepared the dogs to go the entire dog yard of Takotna broke out into the most beautiful howl. Bruce Lee estimated there were around one hundred dogs there singing.

Nicolas Petit took his 24 back in Nikolai and has flown up the trail since leaving the checkpoint this morning. He is out of Takotna and very close to Ophir. He's rested on the trail in what looks like an attempt to break up the run to Iditarod in 3 runs. Petit, though, doesn't follow the norm and it's anyone's guess what he and his team actually do.

Teams will continue to leave throughout the late night/early morning hours. This is where the race truly begins. Hold on tight, folks!

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