Now is the time in the race that it gets very confusing
to determine who is exactly where in the standings. Do the math
by figuring who has and has not taken their 8-hour layover on the
river and the mandatory 24-hour layover and adding in the 2 minute
interval start time differential, which is added onto the 24-hour
layover time. The math gets a bit mind boggling at times to the
fans and even to the mushers who are constantly trying to figure
out just who is on their heels. Sorlie took his 24 in Eagle Island
and Ramy Brooks took his in Galena. Jeff
King has not taken his 24 yet, nor has Swenson, Buser or Baker although
some have taken their 8-hours already. See what I mean? It can make
your head swim to think of all the angles and for the mushers, who
are tired and very busy out there, they have to really plot and
plan to stay mentally ahead of the game.
As I write tonight, Jeff King has topped Robert
Sorlie. Ramey Smyth has joined the front runners as has Jon Little.
It is still anybody's race at this point. Jeff King and daughter,
Cali, are running with some innovations this year. One of these
is the harness design which does not pull on the hips of the dog
at all but allows the dog to push into the harness with its shoulders.
It seems to be helping as King still has 15 dogs tonight. King is
still runing without necklines same as last year. Watching sled
design, types of runner plastic, different gangline configurations
and other modifications mushers dream up can be an education in
itself. Everyone is looking for that extra edge to be first under
the arch in Nome.
Other strategies will begin to be unveiled and
musher mind games will be played. Robert Sorlie tends to get his
"dressed and ready to go" long before he is really going
to leave. The team has consequently learned to stand quietly in
harness rather than jump, howl, lunge, bark and cajole the musher
to hurry up. Lynda Plettner trains her dogs this way as well. She
too gets them dressed and makes them wait. They do not pull out
while the dogs are barking and carrying on but when they calm down.
Conserving energy in this way can make a difference in the team.
Dean Osmar has scratched tonight, the reason is
said to be due to a stomach virus or food poisoning. And the 10
o'clock news just explained that the race route has been altered
again. Shageluk is being eliminated from the route due to overflow
and open water and Anvik will become the turnaround point to head
back up Eagle Island the second time. I wonder how many versions
of the Fairbanks to Nome tee shirts have been printed? Here we have
yet another race route to memorialize in Iditarod 2003 souvenirs.
This afternoon we visited Plettner Kennels to pick
up Tonto who is going home to Georgia to join Lookout and Nacho.
Tonto went to the Wasilla Vet to get his health certificate and
rabies shot for travel. Tonto seemed very happy to be going home
with us. Bill and I had dinner with Bob Morgan but Maureen was unable