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RE:

   
      
   
   
      
         
                              
                        
                           Cagey musher race-rest Iditarod strategies revealed
                        
                            
                        
                           
                              Zack Steer | Mar 06, 2012
                           
                           
                              
                                 
                                    
                                        Enlarge This Image
                                    
                                    
                                       
                                          Related
                                       
                                          
                                             
                                                [*]
                                                      
                                                         Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                   [*]
                                                      
                                                         Iditarod 2011: Takotna
                                                   
                                                   [*]
                                                      
                                                         Video: Over the Happy River Steps in Iditarod 2012
                                                   
                                                [/list]
                                             
                                          
                                       
                                    
                                 
                              
                              


                                 A conga line of dog teams stretched out early Tuesday morning between the Iditarod checkpoints of Rohn and Nikolai. The usual suspects -- Baker, Mackey, and Gebhardt -- were among the leaders, with more than 40 teams almost evenly spaced along the 40-mile straightaway that is the Farewell Burn.
                              


                                 Stop for more than a couple minutes to snack your dogs or check their booties, and you were likely to have a musher or two pass by. For up to 36 hours each year, this lonely and remote section of trail becomes a dog-team highway. About half of the top-30 teams stayed in the Rohn checkpoint to rest, another 15 or so decided to camp near the trail. 
                              


                                 If politics makes strange bedfellows, mushing makes for odd camping partners. I would have loved to hear the conversations and stories told between Mitch Seavey, Jeff King, Aliy Zirkle, Cim Smyth and Michelle Phillips as they camped together along Tin Creek, 20 miles outside of Rohn. I’m sure this group of highly skilled mushers does not gather for tea on a regular basis.
                              
                                 Frequent, short breaks
                              


                                 Individual musher strategies are starting to emerge based on run-rest schedules and the musher’s choices of resting stops. The last couple years some mushers have talked about “two runs to Rohn.” It didn’t happen this year due to the slightly slower trail. Almost all the teams ran to Rohn in at least three hops and a few copied John Baker’s 2011 strategy of four runs with more frequent, short breaks.
                              
                                 
                                    
                                       
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      The Iditarod's only five-time champion, Rick Swenson, crossing Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Lance Mackey keeps an eye on departing mushers while he prepares his team to leave Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A dog rests on Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Bucky Winkley takes his 1924 Ford Model T snow machine out for a ride on Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Jeff King relaxes during a rest stop at Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Lance Mackey prepares his team to leave Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Dogs in John Baker's team rest at the Puntilla Lake checkpoint on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      John Baker keeps an eye on Lance Mackey while putting booties on his dogs at Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      John Baker's dog Ripple takes advantage of every last second of sleep, even while getting fresh booties put on.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      The Iditarod's only five-time champion, Rick Swenson, approaching Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A musher heads out of Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A musher heads out of Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      DeeDee Jonrowe heads out of Puntilla Lake towards Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A musher and their team approaching Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A musher and their team approaching Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Sigrid Ekran puts fresh runners on her sled during a rest stop at Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      Sigrid Ekran puts fresh runners on her sled during a rest stop at Puntilla Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      DeeDee Jonrowe heads out of Puntilla Lake towards Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A musher heads towards Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   
                                                
                                                   
                                                      Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                   
                                                      Mar 06, 2012
                                                   
                                                      A musher and their team traverse Rainy Pass Lake on Monday, March 5, 2012.
                                                   
                                                      Loren Holmes photo
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                       
                                    
                                    
                                       
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                                 Jake Berkowitz is clearly employing Baker’s previous race plan by stopping almost three hours in each of the first three checkpoints. Baker recycled the same strategy this year, only he opted to rest outside Skwentna rather than at the busy, often-distracting checkpoint.  Baker’s plan relies on frequent, short rests in the beginning of the race. The idea is that it eases the dogs into their race schedule and makes them stronger toward the finish when the musher will drastically increase the run times by skipping checkpoints.
                              


                                 Opposite Baker’s plan is the “Neff scheme.” I remember watching the Looney Tunes cartoons on Saturday mornings, there was a little Terrier named Chester who constantly runs his mouth and bothers Spike the bulldog -- until Spike slaps him and says, “Ahhhh…shut up!” Eventually Chester saves the day and the bulldog becomes Chester’s lapdog. Neff’s plan is to stick on the heels of the fastest musher he can find (usually Mackey) and ride his or her coattails towards the finish, hoping he can pass them at the end. When he is not pestering them on the trail, he is usually peppering them with questions, stories and opinion at checkpoints.
                              


                                 The press love Neff; most mushers tolerate him. His chatter can be annoying as hell, but it works. Last month, Neff beat a talented Allen Moore team (which Aliy Zirkle is running in the Iditarod this year) to win the Yukon Quest by employing this exact strategy. Neff’s steady progress up the ranks in Iditarod finishes over the past five years is testament to his scheme’s success.
                              


                                 The trail has been relatively easy on dogs. Most teams have at least 14 still in harness and quite a few are still running the 16 they started with in Willow. The trail has also been very easy on mushers and their sleds. Usually, we hear the horror stories of the Happy River Steps, Dalzell Gorge and Post Glacier. Carnage typically comes in the form of broken bones, sled and egos. This year has been smooth mushing for almost every musher.
                              
                                 
                              


                                  
                              


                                 As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been no scratches and no significant injuries. Compare that to Iditarod 2007, when 15 teams were out of the race by the Rohn checkpoint. This race has been very kind. Still, there's more than 750 miles of challenging trail to go.
                              
                                 What to watch in the next day
                              


                                 Mushers are setting themselves up for their mandatory 24 hour rest, usually taken at the musher’s discretion somewhere between McGrath and Ruby. The typical strategy is to “race to your rest,” meaning taking a few long runs just prior to the extended break. After 24 hours, the teams should be ready to resume a race strategy. There are many factors mushers use to decide where to take their 24-hour layover. The choice has much less to do with how far into the race mushers have travelled and much more to do with how the runs after the 24 are set up regarding checkpoint distances, dog-dropping options and time-of-day run schedule.
                              


                                  
                              
                                 
                                    
                                       
                                           Enlarge This Image
                                       
                                       
                                          
                                             Related
                                          
                                             
                                                
                                                   [*]
                                                         
                                                            Photos: Iditarod 2012 -- Scenes from Puntilla Lake and Rainy Pass
                                                      
                                                      [*]
                                                         
                                                            Iditarod 2011: Takotna
                                                      
                                                      [*]
                                                         
                                                            Video: Over the Happy River Steps in Iditarod 2012
                                                      
                                                   [/list]
                                                
                                             
                                          
                                       
                                    
                                 
                                 


                                    Takotna is a very popular 24-hour sled-dog pit stop. Besides its well-known hospitality (every musher enjoys a steak and all-you-can-eat homemade pie table), the checkpoint is also popular due to its logistical advantages. The fact that it is just 20 miles from the next checkpoint of Ophir allows mushers the option to observe their dogs on the line -- perhaps seeing how a dog with a slight injury responds -- before committing to take such a dog on a long run, such as Ophir to Cripple. If you layover in Ophir, you had better choose your dogs wisely before starting the 75-mile trek to Cripple, otherwise you’ll end up with a speed-sapping dog or two in your sled.  
                                 


                                    Mushers also want to come out of their 24-hour rest at a time of day that is best for running -- not in middle-of-the-day heat. This means ideally they arrive at their chosen layover spot 4-6 a.m. or 4-6 p.m. Once the start differential is accounted for, mushers can depart at a good time of day. Most top mushers have packed supplies in advance that will allow them up to three checkpoint options for the 24-hour layover.
                                 


                                    Of course, this decision requires a high degree of mental math on the back of the runners tonight as mushers ponder where to stop. Add to the mix the cumulative effect of sleep deprivation on cognitive skills.
                                 


                                    If the mushers do the math wrong, they may find themselves in the wrong checkpoint at the wrong time of day.
                                 


                                    Zack Steer, a five-time Iditarod finisher, is sitting out this year's race as wife Anjanette takes the kennel's team to Nome. He owns and operates the Sheep Mountain Lodge with Anjanette and 2 young boys. Zack will bring a competitive racer’s analysis to this year’s Iditarod coverage. Zack maintains a small kennel of racing sled dogs, who are much happier to be taking Anjanette (100 pounds lighter than Zack) to Nome this year. Follow Zack’s race analysis at Alaska Dispatch.
                              
                           
                        
                     
                        

RE:

OK Poetry Lovers, the FFDR is REBORN!.  I am probably not going to bother migrating the posts from the "Musings from the Last Great Frontier" Thread, there were not that many over there to begin with and might as well start Fresh here.

For Newbies, the Frostbite Falls Daily Rant was the title I used for my blogging on TBP while I still had those priviledges on Jimbo Quinn's Blog.  In the future, all my dumbass blogging will go into this thread, hopefully worthy of Bullwinkle himself.

RE

RE:
Also, before anyone else sticks it up, I'll drop on the Bullwinkle Assassinated Graphic :-)



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Surly1:
Excellent news.

RE:
I had a feeling you would like this Title :-)

Even better now since I can put up Peabody & Sherman Vids along with the Bullwinkle pics!

http://www.youtube.com/v/kpgJzlY9y8A

RE

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