Iditarod champ Lance Mackey and the Iditarod-veteran-but-not-a-big-name Jim Lanier are running in front as of 9:00 a.m. in the All Alaska Sweepstakes. The AAS website had both men into the checkpoint of First Chance ahead of the rest.
There's a whole pack of mushers listed in at the previous checkpoint, including Jeff King. King and Mackey are continuing to take potshots at each other through the press, behavior that kept many of us entertained (and groaning) during the Iditarod.
Conditions are decent, weather-wise, but the trail conditions, according to an ADN article posted in the wee hours this morning, well, kind of suck. Which is not a big surprise. While the trail was well-used back in the day when the AAS was organized, the race route traces a string of abandoned gold mining sites across the Seward Peninsula.
There's Council, a Gold Rush community predating Nome that once held hotels, a post office, and 11,000 people. Nowadays, it's the location for a lot of recreational cabins owned by Nomeites. An older couple, the Holly's, were the last to live out there year-round. The 80 mile drive is worth it to get away from the hustle and bustle of Nome. And for the tree-sick transplant in Nome, there's the chance to hang out with trees.
I jokes. But it is nice out there in the summer. And it does have an airstrip.
But many of the checkpoints are now historical footnotes, though I've at least met people who were born at Candle.
Also amusing so far is coverage listing the location of checkpoints as a range, such as "124 to 143 miles into the race."
Despite what I read elsewhere, ahem, there is no bad luck drawing a later starting position, according to the AAS rules:
" The time differential will be made up at a randomly selected checkpoint decided by the lead judge just prior to the race start at 10:00 AM on March 26, 2008. Mushers should not sign in at this checkpoint until the dog count and dog identification is verified by the checker and himself. The differential checkpoint will remain confidential until the first musher’s arrival at that point."