2014 Iditarod Restart


So the drivers are off!

It’s Sunday afternoon (3:00 pm MT) as I write this mini update–nothing has happened yet that I can latch on to, and won’t until a bit later tonight when we’ll be able to see how fast drivers make the run to Skwentna, and perhaps more importantly, how much/little rest they take before moving on for Finger Lake and the journey through the legendary Alaska Range. It will be at this point that the “show” will actually start for us armchair quarterback’s.

Time for some full disclosure: I have been out of the sport since the summer of 2010, and I have very little in the way of insider scuttlebutt to offer–my observations & analysis of this year’s race will be based purely on mine and my wife’s (Harmony) speculations from readily obtainable facts gleaned from the almighty Internet, as well as umpteen years of professional background in the sport prior to laying down the sword…

Ok, with that said, here are a few random thoughts and speculations while we wait for the drivers to negotiate the Yentna–

Last night I shared my initial list of  potential top ten finishers, but I think it’s time to mention some of the people who didn’t make the list but who could easily show very strong, in order of potential strength:

Ray Redington Jr

Aaron Burmeister

Joar Ulsom

Nicholas Petit

Martin Buser

Dee Dee Jonrowe

Jessie Royer

Hans Gatt

Sonny Lindner

Michelle Phillips

Cim Smyth

Paul Gebhart

Hugh Neff

Taken with last night’s list, this could be my “Top Twenty Three List”–as fragile as thistledown as it were.

There are some interesting rookies this year, but not very many that could be considered “competitive”. Here is my pick for Rookie of the Year: Ralph Johannessen from Dagali Norway–by all reports, this man is hell on wheels (runners?) in his home country, and could easily earn a spot in the top ten by the end of the day.

A few thoughts & questions–

In general, every since Sorlie employed his famous Blitzkrieg strategy in 2003, there has been an “arms race” in the Iditarod to see who can get by with the least amount of rest while bludgeoning their way to Nome, finally culminating in Martin Buser’s run from the starting line in Willow (last year’s race) non-stop to Rohn where he pulled in and declared his mandatory 24 hour layover, essentially bypassing the “normal” rests at Skwentna & Rainy Pass ( or mid Yentna, Onestone, Rainy Pass if you’re on the other schedule). This move earned him a five hour “lead” that he maintained all the way to the Yukon River where his plans quickly became unraveled and teams that had been as much as 12-20 hours behind him caught and passed him by the end of the race. Will he try this strategy again? The industry has by and large turned it’s back on the old days of long rests and lot’s of speed (Martin being one of the early pioneers of this method, perhaps ironicly) –will this continue to be the trend, or will somebody come from way out of left field with a strategy that puts them in the back of the pack while banking huge amounts of rest and sprinting for no more than 5-6 hours at a set, gobbling up 65-75 miles a crunch ala Doug Swingley in the late 90’s & early 2000’s, showing up on the coast to cruse past all the spent teams wobbling down the trail?

It should be interesting to watch.

That’s all I have for the time being–I plan to write another brief post tonight to cover some of the events as they unfold in Skwentna.

Thanks for tuning in–more to follow.

 

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