UPDATE: Mitch Seavey’s speed continues to exceed expectations. With Seavey out of the Safety checkpoint at 1:10pm Tuesday, an arrival in Nome as early as 3:30–4:00pm is now possible. (updated Tuesday March 14, 1:34pm)
updated Tuesday March 14, 12:31pm
Mitch Seavey may arrive in Nome earlier than our first prediction. An arrival between 4:00 and 6:00pm now seems likely. The elder Seavey’s team continues to run at a fast clip along the final stretches of the Norton Sound coast. As of 12:22pm, a ping from Seavey’s GPS tracker places him exactly 30 miles from Nome, running at a speed of 10 miles per hour.
First published Monday, March 13, 7:16pm
Nome may be less than 24 hours away from its 2017 Iditarod finish. Assuming no unexpected complications or changes in his pace, Mitch Seavey could arrive under the Burled Arch as this year’s Iditarod champion by around 7pm Tuesday night — perhaps slightly earlier.
The elder Seavey, currently Iditarod’s race leader, departed the Elim checkpoint at 6:13pm Monday with 12 dogs, having spent 2 hours 47 minutes resting there.
A good rule of thumb for approximating an Iditarod champion’s finish is to add 24 hours to his or her departure from Elim. This would, therefore, place Mitch Seavey in Nome at about 6:15pm Tuesday.
Another, slightly more complicated means of reckoning places Mitch Seavey in Nome around the same time. In 2015, when the Iditarod ran the same route as this year, Dallas Seavey, the eventual champion, arrived in Elim at 11:51pm on the Monday a week after the race start. This year, Mitch Seavey arrived in Elim about eight and a half hours earlier than Dallas in 2015. Both men — Dallas in 2015, Mitch in 2017 — rested in Elim for about 3 hours. If Mitch Seavey matches his son’s 2015 pace from Elim to Nome — which may be a reasonable guess, given that both Seaveys have similar mushing mentalities, similar dogs and, of course, come from shared mushing backgrounds — we might expect Mitch to arrive eight and a half hours earlier than Dallas did, which would place him in Nome at 7:45pm Tuesday (8.5 hours earlier than Dallas’ 2015 arrival at 4:15am Wednesday).
So, 6:15—7:45pm Tuesday: Nome could see an early evening finish tomorrow.
Of course, these estimates assume the absence of unpredictable factors like strong winds or other disruptions on the trail to Nome. Certain areas near Safety, such as Topkok and “the Blowhole,” are especially notorious for their unpredictable, sometimes-suddenly-blustery weather. Such a storm — in a remarkable series of events — derailed the Iditarod run of Jeff King in 2014, pushing Aliy Zirkle to second and giving Dallas Seavey the first of his (so far) three-in-a-row Iditarod victories.
But if Mitch Seavey’s current pace continues, the 2017 race seems to be his to win or lose. And if he does win, Nome might expect him around dinnertime Tuesday.