Friday, March 07, 2014
Iditarod 2014: Zirkle Leads, Buser Lurks In Galena
As of this writing, Aliy Zirkle leads the race as the first musher into the Galena checkpoint, which falls at the 545 mile mark. Also into Galena is Martin Buser, who arrived 2 hours and 43 minutes behind Zirkle. But Buser, who is a four-time Iditarod champ, has a big advantage over the leader at the moment. He has already completed both his mandatory 24-hour rest break and 8-hour break as well, which means he is free to run all the way to Nome if possible. Whether or not he can grab the lead, and hold onto it all the way to the finish line remains to be seen. At this point, there is still 430 miles to go, and a lot can happen.
Currently running in third place is Aaron Burmeister, with Robert Sorlie and Nicolas Petit in fourth and fifth respectively. Sorlie and Petit have also completed both of their mandatory rest periods however, so they have a leg up on Burmeister. All three men are out of the Ruby checkpoint and on the trail to Galena.
Former champs Mitch Seavey and Jeff King are both out of Ruby as well. They are running in 7th and 8th place respectively.
It should be an interesting weekend out on the trail. There is still a lot of jockeying for position and strategies have yet to unfold. For instance, Buser's gambit to take his rest periods early may lead to a fresher team at this point of the race, but will they grow more tired on the stretch run for Nome? Will he still have to balance in some longer rest periods to keep a steady pace? Can Zirkle finally break through and win the race? Lots of questions yet to be answered. We'll find the answers early next week!