2017 Iditarod: Day 3 UpdateWe are heading into day three of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race, and if you're a lifelong follower your brain is having a hard time wrapping itself around the Fairbanks route. Traditionally it takes 3-4 or even five days before teams have hit the Yukon River, and most – if not all – came into Tanana in under 3 full days. That alone makes this race seem to be the fastest yet – and in some ways it has been a very fast race for the front runners. Wade Marrs runs on the Yukon River just before the Ruby checkpoint during the 2017 Iditarod on Wednesday March 8, 2017.
Photo by Jeff Schultz/SchultzPhoto.com (C) 2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED In normal Iditarod years, where the trail leaves from Willow and hits the Northern or Southern route, the name of the game is just stay in the mix until the 24 hour rest. Teams find their rhythm in the first leg and by the time they declare their 24, they're just hoping they haven't pushed too hard too early and that their dogs will be able to keep up the pace they've set after the "reboot". The best way to insure that happens is to keep the teams at slow even trot, and give as much rest as you get run (rest 6, run 6 is a familiar teaching). For the most part the standard run/rest schedule has been followed, but it's being shortened. Not all teams are following the traditional. Nicolas Petit, who was first to the Yukon, made a big push to Tanana where he took his mandatory 8 hour rest. He isn't keeping to the "slow and steady" mindset, and that's come to bite him later in previous Iditarods, but it's worked well for him in other races. Petit has said he isn't running with a set game plan, is just listening to his dogs. He is the dark horse of the 2017 Iditarod. Wade Marrs was first into Ruby and declared his 24. Wade shaved off rest on his way to the Yukon and in the run to Ruby, which many speculated meant he was planning to take his 24 early in the race. All reports and videos show Marrs' team to be very strong and happy, so the shorter rests hasn't seemed to faze them. Most likely this is how he's trained with his team all season. Dallas Seavey came in just under an hour later and also declared his 24. Dallas has kept to his tradition run/rest schedule, the only seemingly difference in his past races is he's been consistently up front early in the race – this is most likely due to the fact that the trail has a lot of snow and it's better to run on the trail before a lot of teams have the chance to chew it up. The Elder Seavey stayed in Ruby for 4 hours and then headed for Galena where he stayed just under 3 hours and is now on the trail to Huslia. Seavey stated to Iditarod Insider he planned to take his 24 in Huslia from the get go and that his dogs didn't give any indication that he needed to change that plan. In 2015 most teams did the run to Huslia in two runs. It's unclear what Mitch Seavey has planned as video out of Galenda didn't show a *visible* strawbale, but there is room for one to hide away. We can only guess, and as the day goes on and the team trots up the trail, we'll know when/if he camps. As for who's led the charge for the ladies? That goes to Michelle Phillips who's kept up with the boys along the way. While not ever having been the rabbit, Michelle's stayed towards the front of the mix. Aliy Zirkle has kept pace with Michelle, but an apparent "intestinal ailment" has slowed her team. Aliy's trying to baby them along so they can stay in range of the competition, but not pushing hard so that they can recover hopefully quickly. Jessie Royer has also stayed within the mix, and has crept past Aliy to run with Phillips today. All this makes for exciting fan chat and guessing, but until the 24s are taken and the race is essentially "rebooted" it's hard to determined which of the front runners will run in lead all the way to Nome. Normally by Ruby we have an idea, but it's just too early in the race this time around to see. It won't be till Huslia that we even start to figure out what to expect in the second half. You can't win the race in the first half, but you can definitely lose it. The teams all seem to realize that this year and we're not seeing anything gutsy or overtly crazy. This is shaping up to be a very strong and intense second half. By Toni Reitter / Toni Reitter Photography Check out The Alaska Life’s musher profiles. Jeff King | Dallas Seavey | Martin Buser | Mitch Seavey Enjoy this? Here are a few other stories you may like: 2017 Iditarod Reroute The Original Iditarod Trail A Winning Strategy Iditarod Rookies Dog Races – The Fastest Dogs Don’t Always Win Why Moving the Iditarod Trail is a Good Idea Photo Gallery: A Yentna River Iditarod Experience
Charles Hatch April 17, 2021