Before the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race I picked five mushers who could conceivably win the race, but would certainly end up in the top ten or top twenty, and two who were worth a bet for an upset entry into the Top Ten.
The ever-spectacular Aliy Zirkle, 2nd for the second year running, a definite champion some year soon, already on our shortlist for next year.
Here are the top five I picked, with their results:
Dallas Seavey, defending champion, 4th
John Baker, immediately past victor, 21st
Aliy Zirkle, spectacular challenger, 2nd last year, 2nd again
Jeff King, multiple champion, scientific musher, 3rd
Ramey Smyth, a champion in waiting, 20th
Joar Leifseth Ulsom, the heartthrob of Roros in Norway
And my two outside bets both came good:
DeeDee Jonrowe, perpetual threat, 10th
Joar Leifseth Ulsom, worth a bet for a rookie Top 10 finish, 7th
So, out of my seven choices, five ended in the top ten, and Ramey, whose lead dog Barley was put on compulsory medical leave of absence in a controversial veterinary decision, still ended in the Top Twenty. Only John Baker didn’t make it, by one place.
Of course, none of this is rocket science. If you read my reasons for my choices, you will see that all are pretty obvious choices for a top twenty place. Despite the provocative headline, there is nothing to be smug about here. You could make as good a prediction after a few weeks immersing yoursef in the history of the race.
My next prediction is for a much less spectacular but much riskier proposition, a finish by a 61 year-old lady.
Aliy charging hard across the Norton Sound, trying to close on Mitch Seavey, the eventual winner, before White Mountain.
During the race my group at the Facebook page for IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth, serves new arrivals and old hands at the Iditarod with comprehensible race updates and commentary (well, you have to look lively and not need much sleep to keep up, but that’s the nature of the race!). We also always chooses one of the teams from the back of the pack to follow and cheer on to finish, even to finish last, which is a triumph beyond the reach of all but the few.
Fewer people have finished the Iditarod than have climbed Mount Everest.
This year ten very hard men, and their battle-hardened dogs, over 15% of the starting field, have already scratched…
This year we chose Cindy Gallea, 61, currently in 51st place. She is over the hardest part of the race, up the frozen Yukon towards the Arctic Circle, and has reached Unalakleet on the Norton Sound, only 261 miles from Nome. Go, Cindy!
Come cheer Cindy on.
More about the Iditarod on Kissing the Blarney
Photos courtesy Iditarod Trail Committee and Anchorage Daily News.