I tell myself, “We’ll know more after the eight hour breaks.” Then, “We’ll know more in the morning.” And, “We’ll know more when they get to the next checkpoint.” Well, I have to admit that my math and race strategy skills are taxed this morning. Mitch was an hour ahead of Jeff into Shageluk, and although I believe Mitch was brilliant in taking his eight there, it doesn’t look like it changed his relationship to Jeff’s team. Jeff may have a slight advantage in that he is coming off a longer break leaving Grayling. Sebastian and Aaron now must take their eight in either Eagle Island or Kaltag. Historically, taking your eight earlier is better than later. We’ll see. Hugh also took his eight in Shageluk and I’m sure he is a man-possessed after placing 2nd to Sebastian by only 4 minutes in the Yukon Quest this year, the same day he had to wait out a two-hour penalty for a rule infraction. Ouch. Sebastian would love to be only the second person to win both big races in one year. The plot thickens.
Jeff’s team looked great going through Anvik. I was very proud of all of them as I watched the Insider video. Jeff called from Shageluk yesterday a couple of times. He couldn’t talk much because he was in a crowded room. They have to be careful that it doesn’t appear as though they are getting any outside assistance, physical or verbal. He sounded focused yesterday, not as light-hearted as our conversations were in Takotna. Of course, I don’t believe that there is an Espresso stand in Shageluk.
So, there is a fat lady (with a very big hat) out there tuning up the vocal cords. She has some time yet. There are still days ahead for spectators to enjoy the thrill of this captivating competition. I enjoyed Lance’s interview in Anvik. It oozed of experience in the winner’s circle. Cockiness gone and a relaxed outlook on what the priorities really are. Great to hear. He knows that it is never a sure thing until you cross under that burled arch on Front Street in Nome.