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Dallas Seavey, in Ruby, Eyes Baker, Zirkle, and Dad for Competition

“There are probably 3 teams that I’m keeping a close eye on,” Dallas Seavey says: Aliy Zirkle, John Baker, and his father, Mitch Seavey.

Although the younger Seavey told KNOM’s Laureli Kinneen that his focus is getting the best from his own dogs, he certainly knows the caliber of the teams he’ll have to beat if he’s to finish in Nome first.

With regards to John Baker, the reigning Iditarod champion, Seavey says “you can never count guys like that out… He can do some pretty incredible things with his sled dogs.”

In our interview in the Ruby checkpoint, Dallas Seavey talked about his run from Cripple, his dogs (“they’re tough”), and why he doesn’t expect to see too many “big moves” from the race leaders:

Aliy Zirkle’s time in Ruby was brief – just 9 minutes, mid-morning on Friday – but it was still long enough for an interview.

With Laureli, Zirkle gave an update on her dogs, which still seem to be performing well – “they’re trottin’ along,” she says – and talked about how her teams have fared in the longer runs of the past 24 hours.

John Baker, meanwhile, struck a measured tone in the Ruby checkpoint. The 2011 champ says his dogs haven’t been running as well on the soft trails of this year’s race; in their home territory – the wind-swept tundra of Kotzebue, in northwestern Alaska – the trails are harder.

“I’m the slowest team around,” Baker says, but he’s holding out optimism for the second half of the race, hoping to “make it more interesting” going forward.

“We should be able to start moving up now,” he told Laureli in Ruby: