Saturday, March 9, 2024

First three -no, FOUR- are into Nulato

It was a long night on the Yukon for the top teams as they traveled down the wind tunnel known as the Yukon River. By 10pm the air temp was already -10 (according to Dallas Seavey's sled thermometer) and getting colder. Teams were running into Galena to meet up with Travis Beals who has a strong handle on the lead. Beals chose to take his mandatory 8 in Galena and pulled the hook at 11:24pm and found himself pulling into Nulato at 5:49pm giving him a run time of 6 hours and 25 minutes.

Dallas Seavey left Galena after a 3.5 hour rest in the checkpoint following forty minutes behind Beals. Dallas had a six minute faster run. According to commentary on the Insider it is believed Dallas will take his 8 in Nulato. Of the top 10 teams, Seavey is the only one who has yet to take his 8. This should not be surprising considering his over 27 hour break in Cripple. The team has been power charged this whole race and the longer than normal rest did not seem to slow them down (which can sometimes happen if a team isn't managed correctly).

Jessie Holmes came into Nulato at 8:15am and he ran it 10 minutes faster than Seavey. Holmes has the smallest team of the three as he is down to 11 dogs (not something to worry about), Beals has 12, and Seavey is still at 15. Holmes team looked fast and loose coming into Nulato. Holmes has taken his 8 so this shouldn't be a very long break for him.

Nulato will continue to see mushers come in Saturday morning and afternoon, and it will no doubt unnerve Seavey that he is "stuck" there as Beals and presumably Holmes take off well before he can. Beals has never had to "protect his lead" in the Iditarod, it's all new territory for Travis and he, too, will have to survive the mental gymnastics that entails.

Paige Drobny is picking off teams one by one as she goes further down the trail. She is now fourth into Nulato with a blistering pace of five hours and forty-five minutes. The Squids are definitely going to play a huge factor in how Beals and Holmes race the Coast.

At -30 on the river this morning, there's only one more checkpoint on the river before they cross over to the coast. Early Sunday should be when we see the first team hit the coast. (And, yes, folks we're to the point where you should probably order those Peace on Earth pizzas in Unalakleet for your favorite teams, and maybe some for the volunteers on the trail). 

There's no clear shake down yet, which seems a little strange. There is a huge field of contenders late in the race and it may not be until Shaktoolik that we get a better picture of how this all ends. 

In the back of the pack there was quite teh shake up last night as Calvin Daugherty turned around and went back to Cripple about two hours into his run to Ruby. According to chat fans KattiJo reported over night that Calvin had forgotten his mittens and chose to go back to get them. He is now about seven hours behind schedule and third from last place. Robbins and Mumford continue to go back and forth in the Red Lantern position.

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