Report Card: Predicting the 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, by Andre Jute

March 15, 2017 14:02:45

The Top 13 teams in the 2017 Iditarod Sled Dog Race have now passed under the burled arch in Front St in Nome, after 979 miles of racing in very cold temperatures that, however, made for a good trail.

1. Mitch Seavey  in 8d 3h 40m 13s RECORD
2. Dallas Seavey
3. Nicolas Petit
4. Joar Leifseth Ulsom
5. Jessie Royer
6. Wade Marrs
7. Ray Redington Jr
8. Aliy Zirkle
9. Peter Kaiser
10. Paul Gebhardt
11. Jeff King
12. Ramey Smyth
13. Michelle Phillips

Besides shattering his son Dallas Seavey’s speed record from last year, Mitch Seavey, who was already the oldest man at 53 to win the Iditarod the last time he won, is again the oldest man at 57 to win. And no doubt he’ll be back next year to try for a fourth victory to match Dallas’s four…The first 9 mushers all brought their teams home under the magic 9 days, and the tenth, Paul Gebhart, was only 6 seconds over the 9 day mark.
The last Iditarod champion whose name isn’t Seavey was John Baker in 2011, and his time was 8d 18h 46m 39s. Until the start of this Iditarod, the club of sub-9 day mushers added up to 13, and it isn’t much larger today because the usual over-achievers are also the front runners this year.
[right] The beautiful and
talented Jessie Royer
Most years I make up the list of teams we (readers of my novel IDITAROD, Facebook friends) will follow by choosing a few extremely popular mushers, a few fast mushers, a beautiful musher or two (only checking to see if you are awake!), and someone worthwhile from the rear of the field. Before you ask, I don’t consciously include women (or Norwegians for that matter), though the Iditarod is notable for women running on equal terms with men, and for the large number of women who do enter, and sometimes win. By the time I’ve included popular and fast mushers, I usually have selected several women anyway — and a Norwegians or two as well!Aliy Zirkle mushing in characteristically exuberant style.
Who can resist adding her to a shortlist?
For 2017 before the race started I chose the mushers I thought would be in the top ten. That turned out to be the two Seaveys, Mitch and Dallas; three young guns, Petit, Marrs and Kaiser; two women, Royer and Zirkle; two Norwegians, Ulsom and Johannessen; and the perennial top-ten runner and multiple champion Jeff King.Of those King was 11th and Johannessen 16th. Maybe next year.So, out of my choices, eight of “my” ten were in the actual top ten. I should have put on some money.

[L to R, T to B] Here are my eight out of ten winners, in order of finishing: Mitch Seavey, Dallas Seavey, Nicolas Petit, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Jessie Royer, Wade Marrs, [Ray Redington Jr, not shown, was 7th], Aliy Zirkle, Peter Kaiser, [Paul Gebhardt, not shown, was 10th]
I also forecast the winner: “…I’d advise [some notional bookmaker] to shorten the odds on a Seavey win, putting the chances of another Seavey win at near enough even-steven, maybe 45-55.” You can read my logic here.Thank you for joining me for an exciting ride.
Extraordinary detail from the now-famous watercolor cover painting by Gino D’Achille commissioned by Grafton for the original paperback edition of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth. When there was talk of changing the cover illustration for the CoolMain 20th Anniversary Edition, the D’Achille painting was retained to avoid a revolt of readers who believe it encapsulates the story.
Articles about the 2017 Iditarod from most recent to earliest:

How to discover who really leads the Iditarod.
Who can deny Dallas Seavey another Iditarod victory?
Can one of the Seaveys win the Iditarod, again?
Surviving the Iditarod by intelligent information flow.

If you’re on a nostalgia kick, here’s a list of Iditarod articles from earlier years (in this decade). Also, in another place, nostalgia from the first years of the Iditarod, here are a few Reminiscences from the great Joe May, champion in 1980.

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of
The Greatest Race on Earth
by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:

eBOOKS
iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N
PAPERBACKS
Createspace Amazon USA UK
GAUNTLET RUN by Andre Jute, Dakota Franklin & Andrew McCoy
There’s currently also a free full-length novel by André and friends on Amazon Google iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N:
Henty’s Fist•1 GAUNTLET RUNandre_jute_singapore
André operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to discover who really leads the Iditarod. Andre Jute does the math.

  • The Iditarod Trail Committee publishes race standings, but until the mushers check in at White Mountain, those are just the order on the trail. The only true comparison is between mushers who have taken the 24 hour mandatory break and have both either taken or not taken the mandatory 8 hour break.

  • The real leader can be, and usually is, someone else.

  • Aliy Zirkle. Photo by Mike Criss.
  • If you want to know who truly leads the Iditarod, you must allow for three factors:

Relative position on the trail. One musher is ahead of another musher by so many minutes at a checkpoint, and that’s official, or unofficially on the trail a distance that can be measured by GPS responder positions and converted to a time differential by reference to known average speed.

Mandatory stops. There are three mandatory long stops to rest the dogs, in addition to rest and feeding stops the musher makes at his/her discretion. The 24 hour stop can be taken anywhere except White Mountain and Nome, because none of the mandatory stops can be combined and at Nome the race ends. Practically, almost everyone takes the 24 hour stop before descending the Kaltag Portage to the Bering Sea coast. The first of the mandatory 8 hour stops must be taken on the Yukon (including Shageluk). The second mandatory 8 hour stop must be taken at White Mountain, from where it is a sprint to Nome.

Relative order at the start. Mushers start the race at two minute intervals. These differentials are adjusted at the 24 hour mandatory stop. So a musher who starts ten places ahead of another musher and is now three places and five minutes ahead leaving a checkpoint is in fact 20-5 = 15 minutes behind. After both have taken the Yukon 8 hours and the 24 hours, they will be even-steven, and on-the trail differentials will be true differentials. The checking-in order at White Mountain is also a true differential.

Example. Even a little way into the race, getting an answer isn’t that simple. Take this incident of mushers leaving a checkpoint, Musher A one hour before Musher B. Musher A carries bib number 32 and has served his Yukon 8 hours but not his 24 hours mandatory break to rest the dogs. Musher B carries bib number 2 (there is no No 1 which is reserved for the shade of Leonhard Seppala) has served her 24 hours but not her 8 hours on the Yukon.

Question: How far is Musher B, 1 hour behind on the trail, actually in front of Musher A in real standings?

Answer: Musher B is clearly ahead by the difference between their mandatory breaks still to be taken, 24 – 8 = 16 hours, less the hour Musher A is ahead out of the checkpoint, so 15 hours, with the starting differential still to be calculated. (Here’s where most people give up. Don’t. It gets easier.) Note that her time has been adjusted for starting differential to every musher in the race, including his, all the way to the back because, while we speak loosely of “24 hours”, in fact her break was 26h20m. When he takes his 24 hour break, two minutes for his advantage to each of the 40 mushers behind him will be added on, 1h20m altogether, so the total Musher B will be ahead after she finishes her 8 hour Yukon break and Musher A finishes his 24 hour break  is 24 – 8 -1 + 1h20m  = 16h20.

  • From the IDITAROD RULES:

  • “Rule 13 — Mandatory Stops: A musher must personally sign in and out to start and complete all mandatory stops.

“Twenty Four-Hour Stop: A musher must take one mandatory twenty-four (24) hour stop during the race. The twenty-four (24) hour stop may be taken at the musher’s option at a time most beneficial to the dogs. The starting differential will be adjusted during each team’s twenty-four (24) hour stop. It is the musher’s responsibility to remain for the entire twenty-four (24) hour period plus starting differential. The ITC will give each musher the required time information prior to leaving the starting line.

“Eight Hour Mandatory Stops: In addition to the mandatory twenty-four (24) hour stop, a musher must take one eight (8) hour stop on the Yukon River, including Shageluk in odd numbered years, and one eight (8) hour stop at White Mountain.

“None of the mandatory stops may be combined.”

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:

eBOOKS
iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N
PAPERBACKS
Createspace Amazon USA UK



GAUNTLET RUN by Andre Jute, Dakota Franklin & Andrew McCoy

There’s currently also a free full-length novel by André and friends on Amazon, Google and all the vendors above:
Henty’s Fist•1 GAUNTLET RUN

andre_jute_singapore André operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

Surviving the Iditarod by intelligent information flow. Andre Jute reports.

Actually, the first thing the Iditarod Sled Dog Race watcher needs is enough sleep, especially towards the end, when it can get very tense whether your favorite starts the compulsory 8-hour rest close enough to the front runners to catch them on the short final stretch to Nome. Newcomers to this tense race are then tempted to wait out the layover; experienced watchers catch some sleep the minute the first three or four mushers are in, because they know you don’t want to miss a moment of that last sprint, on which Dallas Seavey famously has come from hours behind to win from Aliy Zirkle. It could happen again, it could even happen to Dallas. (Don’t bet the house on that last wild speculation, though.)

Next you need plenty of nutritious snack food and hydration because you won’t have time to cook anything demanding, and your family will soon be glued to the screen next to you.

Information without which you can’t follow the Iditarod

These, and only these, are pages of essential information you should keep open on your computer screen, neatly cascaded for instant reference. Other pages you open you should close instantly you finish with them, or soon you will drown in inessential information, and you’ll miss crucial bits of the race because you couldn’t find the right page.

First, the page that will be your action control centerThis is where the selected most relevant news arrives hot and ready to your screen.

Next you need to know when it happens, so here’s Alaskan clock you can scale to the space available on your screen by simply dragging the bottom right hand corner.

You also need to know who it happens to, so here’s a list of the usual suspects, complete with mug shots; they’ll look worse towards the end of the race.
Of course, the question of why it happens to her will strike you with great force, and the answer is often Alaska’s perfectly predictable weather: it will turn lethally nasty at unpredictable times.

CdnFy4NXEAEhX5S.jpg-largeAliy Zirkle running hard for Nome

This is the page for one of my books at my publisher, which collects other essential Iditarod information in one place

Finally, the only guaranteed way to judge the progress of a dog team and its musher is from checkpoint to checkpoint, so you need a checkpoint progress sheet. 

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:

eBOOKS
iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N
PAPERBACKS
Createspace Amazon USA UK

andre_jute_singapore
Andre operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

The Farewell Burn, Alaska, an Iditarod Trail painting by Andre Jute

In the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at this point the musher runs along rolling low wooded hills and ridges, really quite pleasant, then the dog team crests one last forested ridge and enters the alien hell of the Farewell Burn. This is the grim remnant of Alaska’s largest forest fire, a million and a half acres burning in 1978, through which the race runs for 40 miles. Without trees, the sightlines are forever, and at night one can see the single light of the radar tower on the peak of Tatalina Mountain, near McGrath, a couple of days away by dogsled, seeming to stay eternally unreachable even at racing sled dog speed. While in it, the Farewell Burn seems to continue forever, without hope, like Purgatory. It is the all-too-real proof that after three days among the trees the Spirit of the Forest, Wendigo, drives men mad.

Andre Jute: The Farewell Burn, Alaska, an Iditarod Trail painting, acrylic on card, 320x230mm, 2016Andre Jute: The Farewell Burn, Alaska,
an Iditarod Trail painting, acrylic on card, 320x230mm, 2016

I made two of these paintings, mirror images, because I intend to use them as endplates for a sketchbook that I’m binding. The sketchbook is 300gr cotton watercolor paper, which is why I made the painting in acrylic. For further waterproofing I’ll also varnish both the front and the back of the cardstock before glueing it in.

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:
eBOOKS
iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N
PAPERBACKS
Createspace Amazon USA UK

andre_jute_singapore
Every year at racetime Andre operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him. Bookmark that page for next year.

andre_jute_statue_of_jeff_king_s_nash_emerges_iditarod_2016_watercolor_octavo_800pxwAndre’s other Iditarod Trail painting for 2016 is at Is this what a memorial to Nash could look like, a doggie Mount Rushmore?

Is this a close Iditarod, or is it close? Is a new record looming?

13 March 2016 1432 Alaskan Time

Seavey_Dallas_2016-150x195In his record year of 2014 Dallas Seavey left Shaktoolik on the Sunday morning at 1028. This year he left at 1027. That record year he left Shaktoolik with 13 dogs. This year he has 9. He says he likes a light team for a fast end run. However that may be, other top contenders, spotting a possible chink, will press Dallas hard, and that could lead to a new record, and possibly an upset too.

Sass_Brent_2016-150x195Remember what I said yesterday, about reaching White Mountain first with enough lead to ensure an easy win? (You can get a screenfriendly map there too!) In that light, check the current official standings, out of Shaktoolik:
1 Dallas Seavey 1027
2 Brent Sass 1125Zirkle_Aliy_2016-150x195
3 Aliy Zirkle 1252
4 Mitch Seavey 1304

Still in Shaktoolik:
5 Wade Marrs, arrived 1352

Seavey_Mitch_2016-150x195Others still on the trail from Unalakleet appear mostly out of contention, though there is still time for an upset to bring them back into play.
iditarod-racePhotos, from the top, D Seavey, Sass, Zirkle and M Seavey.


I

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute


Andre Jute
 is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:
eBOOKS
iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&
PAPERBACKS
Createspace Amazon USA UK

andre_jute_singapore
Andre operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

Sass and Zirkle grab strategic lead in Iditarod

1926888_737793119585114_1733474995_nIDITAROD TRAIL SLED DOG RACE
Sass and Zirkle grab lead in Iditarod
10 March 2016 1620 Alaskan Time

Now it gets a bit confused. The starting time differential is taken into account during the mandatory 24hr stopover. The 8hr stopover must be taken on the Yukon, so Jeff King, taking his 24 hours in Ruby and officially the leader of the race until he is overtaken by Brent Sass, will take two mandatory rest periods relatively closely together between Ruby, Galena, Nulato and Kaltag, before the race turns away from the Yukon down
the Kaltag Portage.
Behind Brent Sass, the real leader of the race, the rest of the top ten will be determined by those who already stopped for their mandatory 24 hours, and whether those who served it at Ophir or before can overtake those who are serving it at Cripple before the Cripple crowd are released.

1926888_737793119585114_1733474995_nEven as I wrote this, Aliy Zirkle catapulted herself into second place behind Sass by blowing through Cripple in twelve minutes, and hour and a half behind Sass.

King_Jeff_2016-150x195Sass_Brent_2016-150x195Zirkle_Aliy_2016-150x195

Jeff King, official leader of the Iditarod.

Brent Sass and Aliy Zirkle, actual leaders.

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jut
eBOOKS iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&
PAPERBACKS Createspace Amazon USA UK

andre_jute_singaporeAndre operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

Who can win the Iditarod?

In theory any of the 85 runners can win but many know that just finishing the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is a higher accolade than is available in almost any other sport.  Realistically, even with catastrophic lack of snow on the trail to create upsets, most literally and dangerously, the winner will come from fewer than twenty men and women.

DeeDee Jonrowe, photographed by Marianne Schoppmeyer, starting the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Such a lovely, colourful photograph, you would almost think DeeDee is setting off for a little shopping down the mall at the bottom of the road, rather than a 1200 mile tour just under the Arctic Circle.
DeeDee Jonrowe, photographed by Marianne Schoppmeyer, starting the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Such a lovely, colourful photograph, you would almost think DeeDee is setting off for a little shopping down the mall at the bottom of the road, rather than a 1200 mile tour just under the Arctic Circle.

For a start, remember this. The race is so dangerous that the organizers don’t let in anyone who doesn’t have substantial experience in lesser races, some of them as long, and some of them almost as dangerous. Though some are called “rookies”, there are no real rookies in this race. Everyone is experienced, and experience counts for a very great deal, which is how come there are so many middle-aged men among the champions and would-be champions.

Also, this is a sled dog race; the humans are there only to feed and tend the dogs. And dogs, unlike for instance horses, cannot be driven to work. If the dogs decide they’re tired or hungry or the conditions are too dangerous, they will lie down and the musher’s run will be over. It has happened, recently, to leading mushers. It can happen again.

Seavey_Dallas_2016-150x195Dallas Seavey has to be the odds-on favorite. He’s been in the top five five years in a row, with three victories and the race record. He’s a dominant musher, and you bet against him at your peril. It gets worse for every other musher. In years gone by, Dallas has “built his monster” (his own words) slowly and cautiously in the first part of the race, saving his team for a strong finish. This year, when every other musher was taking the summer off because it was too hot for the dogs to train, Dallas was building his monster inside a refrigerated truck on a treadmill long enough to take his entire team. If Dallas doesn’t need to build his monster, if he comes out of the starting blocks sprinting, he could win again.

Seavey_Mitch_2016-150x195Okay, so it’s Dallas Seavey’s race to lose. But there are a lot of hard men and women who would be only too happy to take the Iditarod away from Dallas if he makes the slightest misstep or misjudgment, for which an opportunity arises on the Iditarod every few seconds. Chief among the aspirants is Mitch Seavey, father to Dallas, himself a recent champion, and known for never giving up.

Ulsom_Joar-Leifseth_2016-150x195Royer_Jessie_2016-150x195So who do I fancy for an upset? It won’t come as much of a surprise to those of you who’ve gone to the Iditarod with me a few times now that I’ve got my money on Joar Leifseth Ulsom, the Norwegian who has finished in the top ten in every Iditarod he has run, and Jessie Royer, who has five top-ten finishes, including three in the last four years, and five further top-20 finishes.

Sass_Brent_2016-150x195Kaiser_Pete_2016-150x195Petit_Nicolas_2016-150x195Some other young guns whose time has come, and that you should take a look at, are Brent Sass, Pete Kaiser and Nicolas Petit.

King_Jeff_2016-150x195Zirkle_Aliy_2016-150x195Gatt_Hans_2016-150x195Also, you can’t discount huge depth of experience, including being champion or close runner-up, so given that they have depth in their kennels, I reckon Jeff King, Aliy Zirkle and Hans Gatt stand a good chance of featuring somewhere in the top ten.

Jonrowe_DeeDee__2016-150x195Every year we also follow an outsider but this year I want to break that pattern and follow DeeDee Jonrowe in her 34th Iditarod. DeeDee has a stack of Iditarod awards and prize money, and as recently as 2013 she was tenth, but in 2014 she scratched and last year she was 31st. The question is, is she on the comeback trail this year?

Mackey_Lance_2016-150x195Talking of comeback trails, we’ll also be looking at Lance Mackey. It wasn’t so long ago that he was joking about going straight from Champion to Red Lantern. The man has grace.

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

Andre Jute is the author of Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:
eBOOKS iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N
PAPERBACKS Createspace Amazon USA UK

andre_jute_singaporeAndre operates a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join him.

Join Andre for the Iditarod, the Greatest Race on Earth

IDITARODcreatespaceBannerImage

I first heard about the Iditarod in 1978 at a regatta in Seattle, when a journalist told me, “There’s a little race up in Alaska that is also tough.” I couldn’t resist going to look.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is the greatest athletic test in the world for man, woman or dog. It is roughly a thousand miles running across barren Alaska within spitting distance of the Arctic Circle.

The Iditarod is for a different order of hard folk, men and women alike; if no one has told you yet, men and women run the Iditarod on equal terms. If the foul weather doesn’t get you, and the dangerous animals don’t either, and you escape frostbite,  and the rough trail doesn’t break your bones, you could win.

Fewer people have won the Iditarod than have climbed Everest.

IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute
IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by Andre Jute

One of my least known, yet best-received (awards, lyrical reviews) novels is Iditarod a Novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and ebook. Get it at:
eBOOKS iTunes Smashwords Kobo B&N
PAPERBACKS Createspace Amazon USA UK

I operate a special page for live Iditarod race reports where you’re welcome to join me.

Andre Jute is a writer and painter, and an adventurer who has made passage around Cape Horn twice in a ship of his own design and construction.

 

 

 

 

Come join me at the IDITAROD: The greatest race on earth since Marathon — and a bookie’s nightmare

IDITARODcreatespaceBannerImage

Every year I take a busman’s holiday at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. I have a page that helps people follow the race. In theory my presence and the helpful page promotes my novel about the race. In practice the book, long since a best seller, promotes itself, and is anyway better promoted by enthusiastic readers than by the author, and I maintain the page to help myself keep track of a confusing race spread over 1046 miles (approximately) of the most inaccessible and dangerous terrain on earth, and share it with others of like mind. The other thing I do every year just before the Iditarod is amusing: I try to pick some outsiders who will do well; I’m proud of an outstanding track record, for intance picking Aliy Zirkle in each of the years she came second. Obvious now, but this woman, already over forty, with small dogs, in the beginning just wasn’t an obvious choice against the hard men with their brawny dogs. Another example: I picked the poster boy, the Iditarod heart-throb, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, when he came from nowhere, with no track record at this level of mushing.

So, why am I bragging about past triumphs? Because this year the organizers, by accepting so many novices, have made it almost impossible to pick genuine outsiders, short of sticking a pin into the entry list, or laboriously tracing the provenance of each musher. And I intend “provenance” in the precise dictionary meaning: that a musher grew up in a mushing household and community clearly matters in winning the Iditarod, as does the learning experience of the race itself. It’s a dangerous race, so the organizers, terrified someone will die on their race, let in only those with experience and a track record in other tough races. This in turn makes it even more difficult to pick the newcomer who will emerge from the pack.

I wouldn’t bet tuppence of my own money on a race as long, and over such terrain, and through such uncertain weather, as the Iditarod. But if I were staking serious money, I’d grit my teeth and accept the short odds on Dallas Seavey to take a third win. Lance Mackey and Jeff King, both four-time winners, stand at the head of a line of contenders who think they’re finishing the Seavey’s run — Dallas’s dad Mitch is also a two-time winner and a current contender to be reckoned with. There, let’s leave the list of hard, experienced men, several more with victories or many high finishes on their record, and look at the outsiders.

At the beginning of the Iditarod last year (2014), Aliy Zirkle was all set, by her record of two second places, to leave the list of underdogs and outside chances for the permanent powers that be, the perennial threats. But events in the closing stages of the 2014 race have raised the question whether she is only a nice lady with athletic gifts — or whether she’s a winner. After Jeff King was blown off the trail and was forced to scratch only 25 miles from a fifth victory to protect his dogs, it was Aliy Zirkle’s race to lose. And she did lose it by not being ready when the gritty, relentless competitor Dallas Seavey arrived from nearly two hours behind to blow without rest through Safety, where Aliy was resting. Dallas staggered on to victory in Nome.

1924633_754426211236322_206420366_nDallas Seavey, winning the 1000+ mile 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from 1h49m behind 77 miles before the finish.

That Aliy, had she not relaxed into champion mode already in Safety, could have caught the worn Dallas and his tired dogs is shown by the fact that, starting from 17 minutes behind in Safety, 22 miles later in Nome Aliy was only 2m22s behind Dallas, an otherwise incredible gain that tells us much about their relative condition.

1926888_737793119585114_1733474995_n

The popular Aliy Zirkle, runner-up for the third year running in 2014.

Dallas won that race because he is first and foremost a winner.  Which is how come we pick him to win again. He’s a pretty obvious choice: young and hard, yet hugely experienced, a proven winner.

And once more I pick Aliy to upset the running behind Dallas, possibly to be second again, especially of there is a settled weather over all or most of the race to favour her light, fast dogs. Who knows, she may have learned her lesson last year: the race isn’t over till you cross the line, and use her chances better this year. We’re due for a woman winner, and Aliy is still the best-placed woman to deliver that victory.

For newcomers, the Iditarod is one of the very few great sporting events in the world where men and women compete on equal terms. As the saying goes, “Alaska, where men are men, and women win the Iditarod.” The late Susan Butcher has four victories too.

And for a new champion from among the outsiders? Once again I fancy the impressive Norwegian  Joar Leifseth Ulsom. This is no longer a daring prediction because everyone knows his time will come, but I’m betting on sooner rather than later.

An underdog who could easily choose this year to become a top ten top dog is Nathan Schroeder, the 2014 Iditarod Rookie of the Year.

If the ladies want someone interesting to follow besides Aliy, try DeeDee Jonrowe, a veteran runner with an enviable record of high finishes, still a threat for the top places. And don’t forget the grittily courageous Cindy Gallea, 63, who last year was forced to scratch through illness.

Fewer people have finished the Iditarod than have ascended to the summit of Mount Everest.

2015-iditarod-route2

The toughest race in the world, a race of attrition because of trail and weather conditions just short of the Artic Circle.

My page Iditarod follows the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race live, as it happens. You’re cordially invited to join us.

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André Jute is the author of the much-loved, multi-award-winning bestselling novel IDITAROD a novel of the Greatest Race on Earth, available in paperback and all ebook formats.

Iditarod, toughest race in the world, stressfree from your armchair

For a zero stress Iditarod you need these three pages open and only these three. Close any pages you refer to instantly you finish with them or you’ll soon be lost in a tide of pages.
* IDITAROD. Here you find the most important and exciting race reports in comprehensible format.  Come join the best party going. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Iditarod-a-novel-of-The-Greatest-Race-on-Earth/193084334057961?ref=hl
* Alaskan clock, scales with the window. Most mushers take elective breaks during the Alaskan daytime hours. http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fullscreen.html?n=18
* Iditarod Race Map, so you can see where your favourites have reached and how far they have to go. Total race distance is about 1000m. Click on the map and a bigger version will open on your screen. http://coolmainpress.com/iditarodcompmap.html
* IDITAROD a novel of the Greatest Race on Earth: a bestselling story to read in downtime from the race when you are too excited to sleep. Yeah, it’s that addictive. http://coolmainpress.com/iditarod1.html

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“The only thing missing is spooky and suspenseful music playing…”

FREE


Get the Kindle edition FREE! The Survivor

REVIEW

****
Good, but dark
by AvidReader
(extract only)

“Survivor” is a short story that was originally included in IDITAROD a novel of The Greatest Race on Earth by the same author. It was subsequently edited out of the book, because it was so dark. A full explanation for the deletion, and later publication, is included at the end of this book. 

It takes 20-30 minutes to read because it is dense, very detailed, and horrifying.

A man, his wife, and their pilot are flying over Alaska towards Anchorage in a charter plane. Soon, the pilot becomes disoriented and veers off-course. Eventually, the plane runs out of gas and crashes in the expansive Alaskan wilderness. 

The man calmly assesses his situation, and his odds for survival. It is not good. His wife and the pilot are dead. There is no food or water aboard the plane. There is only a basic first aid kit, a tool kit, and the dead pilot’s full lighter. The emergency systems and locator beacon are broken. However, there are lots of dead branches and snow to melt nearby. 

He decides to stay with the plane until a rescue team can find him. The above storyline happens in just the first few pages. The rest of the story is about the man coping with, and trying to survive, these bad circumstances alone.

The main character is very relatable. He is an ordinary city person who is lost, alone, and out of his element. He must do horrifying things in order to survive. Meanwhile, his mind and spirit deteriorate. It causes the reader contemplate their own mortality.

This book is graphic in its description of his actions and mental condition. It is not recommended for children or adults with weak stomachs, or at bedtime.

I both enjoyed this book and was disturbed by it. It was well written, and described the-horror-of-it-all in a realistic way. The lone character was believable and relatable. The pacing was just right. The only thing missing was the spooky and suspenseful music playing as it is read. All in all, it was a good fast paced and horrifying novella.


BRAGBOARD


The Survivor is currently a bestseller on KOBO:

#139 in Fiction & Literature > Fiction > Horror
#567 in Mystery & Suspense > Thrillers
#178 in Sci Fi & Fantasy > Horror

Get the Kindle edition FREE! The Survivor