Thursday Morning Update

March 10, 2016

Thursday morning update #1: The Happy Trails Teams

The A-Team, driven by Mr. B (Martin):
Looking at the GPS and current standings, it’s clear that when he has rested, Martin has given between one and two hours more rest to the dogs and himself than originally planned. That’s not a bad thing at all, and I will explain why. Martin is a master at reading the situation and doing right by his dogs. While he did give himself several hours extra rest on the way to Nikolai, based on what he told me pre-race about his run/rest plans, it appears he actually skipped a planned rest on the way to Nikolai. After that he went to McGrath, rested for four hours, and took off. That he only took four hours in McGrath should tell you he is feeling much better, because that’s exactly how long he had originally planned to stay. He even shipped his cough syrup home because it was making him too drowsy. Doing the math, the numbers have him only about three hours behind his original plan, which is absolutely encouraging. The team is currently resting in Ophir, eleven dogs strong, having arrived there at 223pm yesterday afternoon. Clearly he is taking his 24h break, as well as trying to preserve the team for the more remote push to Ruby. It’s a bit of an adaptation from the original plan, but two of the safest checkpoints to emerge strong from, at least historically, are Takotna and Ophir.

The B-Team, driven by Sir J. Volek:
James and dogs made it to Yentna in a smoking-fast time that ended up being two minutes faster than Mitch Seavey and only one minute slower than Robert Sorlie. Clearly that must have been a beautiful run, which isn’t always expected with such a massive field of mushers as this year. Interestingly enough, James’s actual runtime to Finger Lake was faster than much of the current front pack. From there, it looks like he ran a bit of a throwback to the 1990s schedule until Nikolai – taking a few 6.5-7hr breaks, posting some solid times, and keeping nearly a full string of dogs. The team arrived in Takotna yesterday afternoon at about 330pm. They are currently taking their 24hr break, and accounting for his arrival time and bib number, it looks like he will be leaving at the exact perfect time to avoid the heat of the day. Well done.

The Future, driven by Mixmaster Pappas
Watching the video of Tim preparing food in Rohn, I’m not sure I have ever seen a more relaxed musher just after surviving the Dalzell Gorge. His average moving speed is right at 8mph overall, which is very solid. When you look closer at his GPS stats, however, it’s clear that most of that average speed dipped on the trip up and over the Alaska Range, as his mph look right around 10mph or just under for every other section. He is driving the puppy team, which means he is making sure they get plenty of rest, but I can’t help but think that some of his true moving times suggest he had some of the most fun and exciting sled runs of anyone in the race down the Gorge, across the Glacier, and over the Farewell Burn area. The team is still sixteen strong – a testament to great dog care - and is currently in Takotna taking their 24h break.

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