This year's race feels a bit like Groundhog Day, repeating itself over and over in regards to the front runners. Team 7 has a firm grip on the front position and doesn't seem to be letting go of it one ounce. The front of the pack is in Puntilla Lake, just 148 miles from the finish line in Big Lake, on what appears to be an 18 hour layover hold. This will grant racers the opportunity for a mid-day finish tomorrow and allow spectators to see the teams cross the finish line at a reasonable time to help cheer on their favorites.
This race has not been without some intense weather, especially on the coast, but what has been absent this year is some of the bone-crushingly cold temperatures that is typical for the interior portion of the race on the river and in checkpoints like McGrath. It's not atypical for racers to have to endure 20, 30, and even 40 below zero ambient air temperatures coupled with the wind chill produced by running at breakneck speeds along the trail. Chris Olds of Team 10 is pictured below laying on the ground feeling overheated from racing at 37 degrees ABOVE zero in McGrath!
It's always interesting to see some split-times between checkpoints and I'll include some of the information aggregated by race fan Stan Brown
The remainder of the trail is going to be warm, wet, and sloppy as they make their way further into Southcentral Alaska. Shell Lake and other places are full of wet and heavy snow and lakes are full of overflow.
It doesn't appear that any additional teams have been forced from the race since Team 30 of Blake Elder and Kody Worley were forced to throw in the towel. As the remaining 16 teams make their way toward the finish, you can expect the front-runners to complete the remaining portion of the trail in under 3 hours despite riding over 2,400 cumulative miles in less than a weeks time!
Time will tell if anything earth-shattering may happen within those 3 hours of trail time but as it stands now, this is Tyler Aklestad and Nick Olstads race to lose.