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Discussion in 'Sports' started by MapMaster, Mar 5, 2012.
Thanks for the bump,
I'm getting forgetful in my dotage.
Here's one for us old pharts:
4 years ago, Mitch Seavey became the oldest winner of the Iditarod, at 53.
He's got about a 5 hour lead, 170 miles to go, and it seems like the nearest competitors realize that they're racing for second.
It ain't over, but the fat lady is starting to warm up her vocal cords.
Two checkpoints to go.
He's through the last check point and about 90 minutes out.
Baring any unfortunate incidents, not only will Mitch set the record as the oldest musher to win, but will also do it with the fastest time.
Dayum! That's a great team of dogs he's got!
There was an article a few days ago about a sled team that passed a checkpoint without the musher. Seems he took a nap and the dogs left without him.
Well, the team didn't pass through the check point, they got corralled. Not the first time it's happenned.
The next musher came upon him and gave him a ride to that checkpoint where he resumed his trek.
When he was picked up, the rescuer asked, "Fall asleep?"
"Yeah" was all he got in return.
Not a great conversationalist.
The last finishers have made it to Nome, closing the books on this year's edition.
A cold but fast run overall. Many finishers posted personal bests times, but finished in lower positions than their previous best runs.
What made this one so fast? Lack of bad weather?
The simple answer is yes.
There were some insanely cold nights, like -60F but no major storms.
Interestingly, there were also some warm afternoons (like 20F) and mushers tried to time their breaks to rest during the warm part of the day because the dogs will overheat in those temps.
Long term weather conditions will also impact the ice conditions on the rivers and ocean, and commentary did say that the ice was pretty good this year, not badly ridged/shelved.
This year's run was about 15 miles shorter than normal, they had to move the start to Fairbanks because of a lack of snow from Anchorage.
The length of trail wasn't the reason the record was set, I think the old mark was bettered by something like 8 hours, so a record average speed was achieved as well.
I think the Fairbanks/Nome route is 'easier' as far as terrain goes (inferred from some of the commentary I've read, no one calls it easy )
But training and technique and technology are all improving over time as well.
Sadly, three dogs died "in harness" on the trail, first such deaths since 2011 (last year a dog was killed by a drunk snowmachine rider). None on the teams of the record setters (the first 3 finishers all were faster than the previous record), but the overall faster pace may have been a factor.
Thanks. A number of years ago I was in Anchorage for the ceremonial start. IIRC they had to truck in snow even back then. I wonder if they're contemplating a permanent move north, with warmer temps likely in the future?
Thinking a bit more about my last set of opinions, I realized that I omitted the most important factor.
Mitch Seavey bred, raised, and trained an awesome team of dogs.
He said that he didn't think he had a good shot at winning until after the first third of the race.
When he saw how his team was doing, that thought got revised (just a bit ).
They usually (I think always) truck in snow to Anchorage for the ceremonial start and that's what they did this year as well.
They do try to keep the roads in the city plowed during the winter.
The real race normally starts on a trail in Wasilla which is also the location of Iditarod headquarters.
This is the third time they've moved the actual start to Fairbanks. So it's an established fallback option, but I don't think there's any thought for permanently shifting the start point to there at this time.
Edit: the real race normally restarts in Willow as noted below. Wasilla is the location of the HQ and they have some interesting displays and when I was there, really cute puppies romping around.
And one dog died in an airplane. He was dropped from a team and the volunteer Iditarod Air Force was taking him back to the start. He died of overheating in the plane.
The restart is in Willow, not Wasilla.
Thanks for the correction, that's what I get for relying on 17 year old memories.
I visited the Iditarod center in Wasilla on my y2k Alaska trip and thought the restarts were from there.
I actually stayed at a cabin site on a lake in Willow on my 2015 trip, but didn't notice any Iditarod signage (came in from Denali and left heading back north to catch the Hatcher Pass rd).