From Tom Whitstine:
The sun is up in interior Alaska and the top teams are preparing to leave for Day 2 of their trip to Nome. The first teams will pile out of McGrath at about 10:30 Alaska time. The top 6 teams are separated by under one hour. Reports from McGrath are that all sleds and riders are in very good shape and will be moving at full speed ahead on their trek North.
-Team 10 had a little mishap during refueling in McGrath last night. Mike Morgans sled caught on fire during the refueling operations but was quickly put out. There is some damage to the plastics but Mike and the sled seem to be OK at this time.
-Team 23 made their repairs and left Skwentna yesterday evening and had a quick trip in the dark to McGrath. They are currently in 11th place about 2 hours behind the leaders but they are definitely running strong.
-Team 8, the first place team, will be going on the clock at any time. I heard they have a bit of maintenance to do but I am not sure what or at what extent it will be.
-Team 11, Palin and Huntington, have bigger problems. They replaced the temp sensor last night and departed Skwentna but did not make it very far before turning around and heading right back to the checkpoint for the night. They may tow back to Big Lake for further repairs. My guess is if they tow back to Big Lake, then they are done.
-Lots of middle runners struggled last night in the dark. The Farewell Burn slowed the racers to a snails pace. Many teams lost several hours on the front runners who made it through in the middle of the afternoon yesterday. I am hearing reports that the Burn was 30-40 miles of stumps, boulders, and fallen trees. Lifting sleds over and around trees/boulders/stumps for 30-40 miles is not very much fun.
-Team 30 also had their share of bad luck yesterday. Jerrod hit an ice boulder and busted an A-Arm on the way to Puntilla Lake. They layed over at that checkpoint but the support plane could not land due to weather to deliver their parts. Kyle’s brother and friend grabbed the parts and raced 200 miles themselves from Big Lake to Puntilla to deliver parts late last evening. The guys quickly made the necessary repairs when they got off layover and were underway last night by about 10pm. They should have arrived in McGrath this morning at about 5AM I am guessing. They will take an 8 hr layover in McGrath before continuing on the trail.
EDIT: Update on team 30 from Rachel Conner ” Luke and Donald didn’t make it to Puntilla Lake with parts until 6:30 this morning. Kyle and Jerrod just went through Rohn and are trying to make Galena (500 miles from Puntilla Lake) by this evening.
-Team 16 had a pretty good run North yesterday. Nick has a nasty case of the flu and he wasn’t even sure he was going to race on Saturday. They decided to give it a go and made very good time considering the circumstances. It looked like they stopped randomly several times on the trip North, likely due to the sickness. They are currently in 6th place about 48 minutes behind the leaders.
-Team 22 posted this on their facebook page. “Update on #22–We had to run easy yesterday because on a set up run on Thursday we struck the heat exchanger with the studs. Had to have it welded Friday and take measures to hopefully prevent further damage. It was going to be an issue in the big rollers, and if it took a hard sudden shock to the rear arms, we would have problems, that is why we took it easy to McGrath to clean and assess then. Well that went to pot when another racer from team 20 and I crested an ice ridge. He was in front of me and when he landed he broke all of the shelf ice exposing a 10’x15′ hole. I landed square into the hole. This was a freak accident, no ones fault, but it has ruined our race. The plan to keep the sleds clean is gone. Many of the top teams are having issues from E and S mods to one that caught fire. My sled is limped worse and has a coolant leak that we can’t find so we had to stop and boil snow to get water in it. All total we lost a minimum of 3 hours. If we were here at 9:30pm clean, I would be smiling. We are thinking it may be a cracked case causing the coolant leak. We will wait until we are on the clock and tear into it.
2-17, 7:15 AM, NIKOLAI -8 feels like -24, winds 8 MPH, light snow forecast 3 degrees, sunris 9:00AM
2-17, 7:15 am, Takotna, partly cloudy -8 feels like -8, s mph Winds, partly cloudy, sunrise 9:07 AM
2-17, 7″15 am, Ruby, Clear now -11 feels like -29, 9 MPH winds, forecast -3 and partly cloudy, sunrise 9:12 this morning