The mushers got a sunny day today at the restart in Willow. The restart began at 2pm AKST with the last musher, Sonny Lindner, out at 4:10. Those who drew lower positions may benefit by leaving later in the afternoon and running in cooler conditions. Those huskies hate running in the heat.
Speaking of huskies: although most mushers left with the maximum 16 dogs in their teams, there were some smaller teams. Charley Bejna is running a 15-dog team with a single lead dog. Rudy Demoski Sr., Cindy Abbot, and Bob Chlupach all have 14-dog teams. Mikhail Telpin has only 12 of those striking Chukotka dogs on the line!
Currently, Martin Buser leads the pack as the first musher in and out of Skwentna, the second race checkpoint. Buser’s been trucking along at an average speed of 9mph with only short rests. He arrived at Skwentna at 8:45 AKST and left a half hour later. Michelle Phillips, DeeDee Jonrowe, and Jeff King are at Skwentna with Robert Bundtzen, Aliy Zirkle, Kelley Griffin, and Cindy Gallea not far behind.
All but ten of the mushers have been in and out of the first checkpoint at Yentna. The remaining ten are currently resting at Yentna with James Volek carrying the Red Lantern.
But the race is early yet. The mushers are only 80 miles into it, with miles to go before they sleep. And, of course, the starting time differentials will be adjusted during their 24-hour layovers.