The 2014 Iditarod is well underway, and once again I will be providing race analysis here on the teamjohnbaker website. This will be my third year providing regular analysis, and I look forward to an interesting race.
During the first night of the race, familiar patterns have developed. Martin Buser is speeding along in front, nearing Rainy Pass at 6 am. Reports from the trail describe very hard packed snow, and the pace suggests a very fast trail. That doesn’t always mean that the dogs are moving at an exceptional speed, sometimes it means that there is little drag and the teams can move longer distances on less rest because they are not working as hard. Tracker speeds don’t seem to be unusually high on the front running teams.
Buser’s strategy has worked well for him some years, other years not so well. Just last year he jumped in front and stayed there for quite a while, but was moving much slower than the top teams which passed him later in the race.
John Baker has usually employed a much more conservative approach to the start of the race. He rested almost 4 hours at Skwentna leaving in 39th place. Katherine Keith employed a similar strategy and she has already rested for more than 5 hours at the same checkpoint after arriving just 18 minutes behind John.
Temperatures have cooled a bit overnight after a very warm day at the restart in Willow. Forecasts today call for below freezing temperatures along the trail into the Alaska range.