Bearss Blog: TBT - Cracking open the stat books
The last time mushers traveled the southern route, the race was won by Mitch Seavey in 2013. Will he repeat that feat and re-up his title as the oldest person to win the Iditarod?
From a statistical standpoint, leaving Ophir is eerily similar for Mitch. He is running this trail after taking his 24 in Takotna both in both 2013 and this year. He departed Ophir with the same number of dogs in his team-- 13-- as he did in 2013. He made the run to Ophir in nearly the same amount of time-- 2:33 in 2013 versus 2:31 this year.
One difference between these two years is race positioning. Mitch is in similar company with Nic Petit, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Aliy Zirkle, Aaron Burmeister, Ray Redington Jr. and Jesse Royer-- all of whom are within striking distance-- for both years. This year, Seavey arrived in Iditarod 49 minutes back on Nick, and in 2013, he was four hours behind Martin Buser and Nic was two hours behind him.
Currently, Mitch is running roughly 25 minutes slower than in 2013. The fact he is only 25 minutes slower is amazing considering the warm temperature and snow the teams have been contending with this year. I think he’ll be content bouncing within three hours in the lead as we head up the river and early along the coast.
He has rest, speed and 10+ years of experience on the competition.
As Danny Seavey said in a recent post, “Mitch is running like a smart old guy." He swapped out for a lighter sled when he left Takotna and still left carrying two dogs! From my understanding, listening to Danny, for the strategy of carrying dogs to work, Mitch must be able to rest every dog along the run. With deeper snow, I do question if or when he will abandon this strategy. But, until he does, this strategy helps bank more rest than mushers who are not carrying dogs.
At this point, I’m looking at Mitch as having the upper-hand, but that can change with the wag of a tail.
I wouldn’t count out anyone in the top 15 right now. Joar will be leaving Iditarod fresh from his 24 within about an hour of Mitch and Nic.
Any one of the top 15 could close the gap as easily as these three musketeers of Nic, Mitch and Joar created the current lead. Snow can and will likely factor in tremendously from here on out with the infamous winds and storms along the coast lying in wait.
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