2011 Kuskokwim300 Update #4

I’ve been keeping a sharp eye on the reports coming in from the trail, and I’m having a really hard time picking an obvious winner out of this bunch!

It is still very cold out there on the trail–Bethel is reporting -17 degrees–but the wind has calmed somewhat and should be at the drivers’ backs as they turn homeward around the Whitefish Lake area; leaving from Aniak, the trail mileage is approx 33 miles to Whitefish, and then 21 more back to Kalskag, for a total of 54. So far, the trail sounds perfect; slick packed snow and zero overflow–if this proves to be the case all the way through, then this could be the year for a new speed record…

A few thoughts on how the competition is shaping up: Mike Williams Jr. & Paul Gebhart were the fastest running teams to Kalskag earlier today, and blowing through Aniak this afternoon, that proved to still be the case. They both logged run times that chomped up almost forty minutes on Neff, Berkowitz, & Schnuelle, burying them yet further.

Paul was out of Aniak with a small lead on Mike Jr. and still with all 14 of his dogs. It remains to be seen if those two can keep up their blinding pace–there is a whole pack of drivers coming along behind them and still well within “shooting” distance, and only the morning sun will tell us if they’ve over played their hands.

Personally, I thought the way Baker, Smyth & Seavey rolled through Aniak implied serious drivers on a serious mission, and I’m looking for the lead to change hands in Kalskag Downbound, with my money remaining on Mitch and possibly Baker.

Also, it’s well worth noting that Neff, Berkowitz & Schnuelle have set themselves up for a possible “titanic push” straight through Kalskag and on to the village of Tuluksak, hoping to catch all of the aforementioned front-runners taking a nap after running almost ninety miles from Kalskag Upbound–I still don’t think this will work for the first position or two, but do agree that they are all three nicely positioned to finish in the top 5.

The real race starts tonight.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow….


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