Some interesting developments overnight. Martin Buser did indeed decide to take his 24-hour mandatory rest in Rohn yesterday. This is not too surprising given that he mushed 175 miles with only a couple hours of rest. He is due to leave Rohn today a little after noon AKST. Matt Failor, who is running a team of Buser’s dogs, has been bird-dogging Buser the entire way. He came into Rohn 4 hours behind Buser and is also taking his 24-hour. If you take starting time differentials into account, Failor is only a couple of hours behind Buser.
In an interview at the Rohn checkpoint with Iditarod Insider, Failor says he and Buser together planned to follow this strategy of a long run to Rohn before the race. It gives Buser a good look at how both of his dog teams handle an unorthodox schedule.
A large chunk of the rest of the field passed through the Rohn checkpoint last night. Paul Gebhart, Aliy Zirkle, Jeff King, and Mitch Seavey came through after 7pm AKST but then took a 5-hour rest not far beyond Rohn. Aaron Burmeister and Lance Mackey leapfrogged past them and are now in first and second positions respectively. Burmeister is only a couple of miles from Nikolai, the first interior checkpoint.
However, technically, Martin Buser retains an 8-hour lead over the rest of the pack that has yet to declare its 24-hour. Most will likely take it in Tikotna, although a few ambitious mushers may stretch it to Iditarod and rest up before tackling the Yukon River.
The big question: Will Buser be able to keep up the pace once he leaves Rohn, and if so, will Failor be able to keep up with him? Both mushers have put a lot of pressure on their dog teams. The rest of the race will be a good testament to just how hardy Buser’s two teams of dogs are.
The big surprise is Scott Janssen scratching at Rainy Pass yesterday afternoon. He still had his full contingent of 16 dogs, but apparently, he was experiencing some problems with their performance. More details to come.