This morning saw a full house at Kalskag: all mushers save one (Scott Smith) appeared to be taking their 6 hour rest, and so it was a waiting game to see who would be leaving when. KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen called in to update us on when the mushers should be leaving (with their times adjusted for the staggered start). Looking at each dog team’s performance since leaving Bethel, and going on what Laureli could tell us in Kalskag, it looks like the real race will be underway soon. On their way to Aniak, the half-way point, with most mushers having taken their 6 hour layover, means it’s going to be an exciting second half of the race.
Last year Paul Gebhardt had a lead coming out of Aniak that he kept all the way to Bethel. He barreled through a 145-mile shot straight to Tuluksak, taking the mandatory 4 hour layover. Will he try a similar move this year? Will Mackey’s dogs, fresh from a strong Knik 200 performance, take him to a first-ever K300 win? Will one of the Busers unleash that trademark speed? Will local boys like Mike Williams Jr and Pete Kasier – two mushers with strong performances last year – find themselves at the head of the pack? And what about John Baker, sitting in position 14 out of Kalskag? It’s all too early to tell.The second half of this race is going to be interesting.
Races like this are so much fun to follow because no matter how closely you look at the online leader boards or how often you refresh the GPS tracking, you’ve got to use your imagination to see these dog teams in your head, to imagine how the musher is pushing his dogs and pacing his team, until you get another update of time in/time out at the next checkpoint.
Based on the estimated times out, adjusted for the staggered start, Lance Mackey, Rohn Buser, Paul Gebhardt, Ray Redington Jr, and Mike Williams Jr. should be back on the trail. It’s going to be an exciting race to Aniak, to Tuluksak, and on to Bethel.