Thursday, March 11, 2010

A different kind of "24" at the Iditarod

As expected, Kathleen Fredrick (Bib #46) had to scratch yesterday at Rohn with equipment failure. That leaves just 65 mushers on the trail.


A number of mushers have taken their mandatory 24-hour rest at Takotna and have headed out on the trail to Ophir. That would be Jeff King, Hugh Neff, Sebastian Schnuelle, and Mitch Seavy. There are a slew of others still sitting at Takotna who are probably also taking their 24. (Current Standings)

It's only after they have taken the 24-hour rest that you really get a feel for who is where in the standings. It's during this rest that they make the time adjustment to compensate for the times lost during the start back in Willow.

See, the first musher (bib #2 since #1 is reserved for an honorary musher) started the race at exactly 2:00 PM AKST. The second racer (bib #3) left the shute at 2:02 PM, the third (bib #4) at 2:04 PM, and so on at two minute intervals. The 70th racer wearing bib #71 didn't get out of Willow until 140 minutes after the first one or around 4:20 PM AKST. That's quite the handicap!

So, when they take their "mandatory 24-hour" rest, the actual time may be somewhat longer from each racer. The racer with bib #71 need only stay at the station for precisely 24 hours. If you're wearing bib #70 you tack another 2 minutes to your "mandatory 24" and stay 24 hours and 2 minutes. Bib #69 stays an additional 2 minutes and so on until the poor schlub who had bib #2 and got to leave Willow first has to stay an extra 2 hours and 10 minutes (140 minutes).

Only once they have all taken their "mandatory 24" the starting handicap is gone and the position on the trail is the real position in the race. That's one of the reasons I haven't posted much about who's ahead. It really doesn't matter--yet. But, as for those who have had to scratch--that is real. Once you're out, you're out. And so far, six (6) have had to pull out of the race for medical or equipment reasons.

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