Mitch and Dallas both have separated each other from the field for now. They have done so, by just pulling off two very long runs into Ruby, only stopping in Cripple for about 4 and half hours. That is close to 160 miles total run. Now both are taking their 8 hours here, which gets them out in the early afternoon. At 2 and 3 p.m. respectively.
Jim Lanier is the first Musher into the Cripple Checkpoint. Under almost sunny skies his team was led into the checkpoint by a single leader. GCI representatives were at hand and to award Jim Lanier the Dorothy G. Page GCI Halfway award soon. Jim had chosen to first take care of his dogteam.
Official half way point in Iditarod. Is it really half way? With my camera bag strapped right over my speedometer, I have no idea how many miles we have gone since Willow. But talking to one of the trailbreakers, who is pulling a big groomer, he said it is 397 Trail miles up, but that he has 730 on his machines, with all the getting off the trail, turning around and putting in parking spots for the teams. Right when we pulled into Cripple, the 6 of the 8 trail breakers had left the checkpoint en route to Ruby. The remaining 2 machines will go with the groomer, as soon as teams get into Cripple. For them the Dorothy G. Page Halfway award is looming. A good poke of Gold. The run is between Jim Lanier und Trent Herbst, who both have not done their 24 hr layover yet.
That seems to be the slogan of the back of the pack mushers. And that does not mean that the front musher do not have the same rule, its just that there are more experienced and confident in their own decisions, than mushers further back in the standing, who more often seek for a second opinion of a veterinarian or fellow experienced musher. Back of the back these days has also changed meaning. Passing Ed Stielstra from Michigan on the way to Takotna we exchanged a few words and Ed commented on the speed of this years race: “ Sebastian I have never been here this early and look, I am in 50th something place. “ That looks a bit different on the actual standings, with some teams resting in McGrath, as Ed is listed into Takotna as team no 35. Only 2 teams have left the checkpoint, being Martin Buser and his son Rohn. Both are some 8 hrs of the leading mushers pace, right now Mitch Seavey who can leave 3 minutes ahead of Aliy Zirkle.
Into McGrath. We left right after Aaron Burmeister had left Nikolai. At times the trail was quite blown in, specially along the chain of open meadows and lakes.