Race Analysis–What Comes Next

Some people would say that it’s “too early” to make a considered prediction about how this thing is going to end up, who will be the first to march up Front Street in the far off goldfields of Nome and garb their leaders in roses. For the most part, I would say that these people are correct–there are simply too many miles left to cover and predict with any certainty how the 2011 Iditarod is going to play out…but I’ve never been cautious about sharing my opinions, or afraid to risk my neck by rolling the dice.

Right now, I’m going to lay out some of the facts as I see them, and together we can start building a picture of what the future might hold.

Martin Buser has the lead by about 1 hour forty minutes over Lance who will be leaving in second position. We don’t know how many dogs they’ll be departing with tonight, but we do know Lance came in with 12 & Martin 15. These are our two “no brainer” teams to bet on for a trip to Disneyland, both 4 time champions who understand the price that will have to be paid on the route to victory.

They’re both leaving at a great traveling time out of Takotna, starting around 9:00PM AKST.

Behind them is Sebastian Schnuelle–not nearly as fast as Martin or Lance, but with a very happy, precise looking gang of dogs. Of the group of people running “with” Lance & Martin, I think Sebastian is the most realistic threat for a possible upset. Of course there are others–Hugh Neff & Ray Redington Jr, are right there to be sure, but I think the three Martin/Lance/Sab are the strongest.

Ok, and here is the interesting question–what exactly happens when these guys start pulling out of Takotna? Here is what I think we’ll see Lance Mackey do; having had 24 hours to put things back together, he’s going to come out swinging, looking to land a series of punishing body shots on anybody who wants to stand up and take the beating–this will manifest itself with a standup run to Iditarod, followed up with an abbreviated rest (less than 6 hours) and a straight shot to the village of Anvik on the banks of the Yukon. These two runs are almost inconceivably long, and I personally believe Lance is the only one who is capable of pulling them off.

That’s the position he’s going to want to put Martin & everybody else in–follow him and blow up their teams, or fall off the pace and never get a good look at him again. Martin is an hour and change in front of Lance, sure, but he’s not that much faster than him, and I don’t think anybody believes Martin can run to Anvik on 4 hours rest without cratering his team, whereas we’ve seen Lance do this kind of thing so many times now that the real story will be if he can’t do it.

Martin is sitting in a good spot, but not a great one.

Then, to make things interesting, we have a small handful of what I’m thinking of as wildcards:

Mitch Seavey–strong, smart, scrappy.

DeeDee Jonrowe–moving like a freight train

Dallas Seavey–I picked him for a possible win scenario before the race began, and I still stand by that call.

Ramey Smith–I know he’s a wildcard, but right now, my gut is seriously telling me this young man is going to somehow win the ’11 Iditarod. Far and away, I think he’s the strongest second half player in the race, period. I can think of no one who can run to Nome from Iditarod faster than he–the reason most people (mushing fans) don’t know this fact is because Ramey is usually sitting at Takotna 8-14 hours off the pace. Well, right now he’s only off by approx. 3.5 hours, he still has 16 dogs, and is putting in some of the best times (yes, better even then Martin’s) in the entire field. Oh, and the word from my sources in Takotna is that his dogs are looking better than anybody else’s parked in the checkpoint.

Just a few points to consider.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow

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9 Responses to “Race Analysis–What Comes Next”

  1. good stuff

  2. Thanks for the analysis. How fun to see Ramey Smith so close to the leaders at this point!

  3. I like that you picked Dallas before the race began…. It helps reconfirm my gut as I picked him last year when I saw how well he did… LOL I said outloud.. I bet he wins it next year.. then when I saw him win Yukon Quest… I said it again!

  4. be neat to see dallas do the double, only other musher than lance, hans came closest i think in 2010. quest then 2nd place irod before he ran out of trail

  5. So funny to see that your race analysis are pretty much the same as mine….What do U think about Jee jee?? She is never one of mine picks simply ‘course I do not really trust her to be able to go all the way…She always bring a nice team but are never really pulling it off….What do U think??

  6. I love the thought of Dee Dee being a freight train! Tough, sweet Dee Dee chewing up the trail!! It would be such a pleasure to see Dee Dee first under those burled arches in Nome! We’ll see…

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