This is my second day in Eagle. Most mushers have long ago come and gone. The leaders are almost in Central. And just a mere hour ago, the back of the packers, Dyan Bergen and Misha Pedersen have left Dawson. I have real mixed feelings about that. They are driving 2 of the smallest teams in the race. They are about 24 hrs behind the 3 last team of Matt Failor. There is a big low pressure system over western Alaska. Its balmy out, just below freezing, but by no means calm. The Yukon River can blow in quick. Both teams already had leader issues coming into Dawson. Teams who had severe trouble on the run to Dawson like Kelly Griffin or Christina Travers had runtimes in the 24-28 hr range, and both did not make it into Dawson under own power. It took Misha a whopping 40 hrs for 100 miles. Why continue? For what pride? I have deep respect for Randy Mackenzie to pull out of the race in Dawson. He did what was best for his team. That takes courage. I am sure he´ll be back to finish unfinished business at a later time. He learned lots on 450 miles, and finished on a positive note, with bringing his dogs home healthy. It remains to be seen, what happens with the last 2 teams. I sure hope to not get a call, and another rescue mission. Its a long way up the Yukon, 250 miles of windy river. And that almost 24 hrs behind the nearest team. I wish both women luck and hope they make the right choices along the way, if they experience tough going.
In the meantime, I am armchair mushing here in the Eagle library and can only crunch the numbers for the front of the pack. With the highway being closed for much of the day from MIle 101 to Central, that is all which needs to be said of the conditions up on the Eagle Summit. A low pressure system brings anything but calm conditions. Right now the teams are on Birch Creek and endless meandering River, usually in the calm. Going will be good. But that will change out of Central. Hugh took a short 3.5 hr rest in Cirlce. Allen rested for 5.5 hrs, and thus leaving some fuel in the tank. Jake had a strong run up the river, and rested 4 hrs. Brent closed even more of a gap and rested 3.5 hrs. An impressive race is run by Scott Smith who did the river from Dawson to Circle in 3 long runs, instead of 5 runs like the other 4 teams ahead of him. His team is still keeping the same average speed as it had all along. But he did a very long rest, more than 9 hrs in the vicinity of the Kandik River, and with that loosing the advantage of the 2 long runs, matter of fact, loosing time to the teams ahead of him. If he really wanted to make up time, he could not have rested more than 4 to 4.5 hrs. He left Eagle about 2.5 hrs behind Brent, but arrived in Circle 6hrs behind Brent.
So looking at the stretch from Dawon to Circle:
Hugh and Allen kept the same distance of LEAVING 2 hrs apart, although arriving together in Circle. To me that show that Allen can close the gap, if he chooses to.
Jake left 7hrs behind Hugh in Dawson and now left 4 hrs behind Hugh in Circle. He made up a total of 3 hrs on 250 miles. He is in the hunt.
Brent left 9.5hrs behind Hugh in Dawson and now left 5 hrs behind Hugh in Circle. He made up the most time, and shaved of a total of 4.5 hrs in 250 miles. Impressive. He is also in the hunt.
Scott shaved of good time to Eagle, but than lost it on the run to Circle. I wonder if he overslept when he stopped for 9 hrs on the river. Just guessing here.
With Eagle Summit coming up. The teams from behind closing the gap in my opinion its still anybody´s race, at least for the top 4. Most likely mother nature will have once again, a word in how this race to Fairbanks plays out.
Save travels to all, specially Misha and Dyan who are bringing up the rear!