Well, day seven is in full swing and endurance is the word of the day! We are seeing the profits of conservative mushers, but are we also witnessing the consequences of pushing hard and long as well? Confirmed by the leader board below, Jeff King, who is now in first position, has been patiently consistent and up to this point mostly conservative. He has been quoted saying, “I have not felt this good, at this point in the race, since 2006”. Knowing Jeff personally, he has an extremely strong sense of competition, but will certainly tell it like it is! I think Jeff is ready to roll out his master plan.
Here is where the previous day’s lead pack began suffering. It has been reported by The Lance Mackey Documentary team, that Lance was scheduled to see a dentist upon arrival in Koyouk. My first thoughts were OUCH! Nothing like a toothache to take down one of the toughest men around! Aliy Zirkle was helping her team with a bit of ski poling (perfectly legal), this resulted in palms riddled with big blisters. Martin Buser is also losing steam with slow run times, losing any lead he had amassed looking burnt out. Jake Berkowitz and his team are sick with a stomach bug, the dogs have been vomiting and have diarrhea. Jake is also unwell but his dogs are #1, and his energy is going into caring for them and giving them the attention they need.
Although sickness, blisters and toothaches are unexpected, these mushers know to expect curve balls. As for day seven, fatigue is inevitable but how these athletes respond will be the real kicker. They may respond with an incredible strategy, or it might be poor decisions at the expense of exhaustion and fatigue. I also want to mention rookie, Joar Leifseth Ulsom. Joar is currently in 6th place. He has been hanging in the top ten most of this race and is certainly proving he can hang with the big boys! I am excited to watch him more in the next few days.
So what’s to come of Jeff charging straight through Koyuk? It has been rumored that he may wait atop a vantage point, waiting to eye an oncoming musher, pull his hook and continue on ahead. In an article that I read from Sebastian Schnuelle, since every musher is outfitted with a GPS, it would be very benefitial for Mitch Seavey to know if Jeff King is pushing straight through to Elim or is stationary and resting. This is currently a ‘gray area’ in the rules but could potentially give Seavey a glimpse into the pocket aces that Jeff might be holding.
If everything goes well for Jeff in the next several hours, I feel that it’s currently his to lose.
|OUT OF Koyuk
AT 03-11 08:22
|OUT OF Koyuk
AT 03-11 11:20
|IN TO Koyuk
AT 03-11 09:28
Find the complete and up to date race standings HERE.