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Team Baker Iditarod Reports

Updates on Team Baker during the 2014-2016 Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Myron Angstman.

Saturday on the Iditarod by Myron Ansgtman

Linda H.

The Iditarod tracker has more information deep in its pages than anyone should really look for, if they have a real life.   I apparently don’t cause I spend a lot of time checking it out.  Today’s check reveals a few items of interest.  It does not appear that  Martin Buser can hold his lead. It is down to about 10  miles now over Aliy Zirkle  and a few more miles over a bunch of other teams. The lead has evaporated on the trail, as the chase teams are moving  somewhat faster than Martin.   At least one, and perhaps a bunch of teams will pass him in the next day or two.

Who has the best  shot at winning right now?  There are a number of  teams  still  in the mix.  One team that continues to shine is  Jake Berkowitz.  In addition to having the fastest travel time between the last two checkpoints, the tracker shows that he has his fastest speeds at the end of those runs.  Most of the other teams, including speedy Mitch Seavey, slow down a bit at the end of a long run.  To check that you need to go to the tracker and click on analytics, and  study the graph.  Tedious work, but  not as tedious  as running a dog team for days on end.  By the way,  faster speeds  at the end of a run usually mean the team has greater endurance than  one  that slows down at the end of  a run.  And after all, this is a race of endurance.  One can assume that as the race draws to a close, the team that still has speed at the end of a long run can  remain moving if needed to gain time, while the slowing team might have to stop.

The three teams mentioned above are  currently  Buser’s main  competition, but others are right there as well.  The rookie  Joar Ulsom  is  drawing more attention as he goes, and is certainly a factor.  Sonny Lindner is  a bit back but moving hard.  Jessie Royer has yet to take her eight hour layover  but is emerging as a  threat and don’t count  out Jeff King, who just took his eight hour and has the fastest moving average speed for the   whole race.

Trail conditions, weather, and plain old luck will figure in as well.    Also, weight of the mushers could be a factor.  There is a reason why  they use light weight jockeys in horse racing.  It allows the horse to move faster.  The same applies to  dog racing.  Anyone who wants to slow their team down on a training run adds 50 pounds to the sled.  Using a GPS, you can remove the weight and  notice an increase in speed. Obviously the dogs expend less energy pulling a lighter load as well.   We don’t know the exact weights of the  contenders, but I can  tell you what  appears obvious from seeing these  racers in person.  Berkowitz is the heaviest among the front runners,   and several racers are substantially lighter. That makes a difference all the time, but more so on uphill portions of the trail, and there are a few of them left.  In a  close race, that is surely a factor.

Myron Angstman, lawyer, pilot, and dog musher, lives in Bethel, Alaska. Read more about dogs, law suits and rural Alaska gossip by checking