Time is Running Out
By: Jake Berkowitz
With only two stages remaining, Kemmerer and Uinta County/Evanston, time is running out for teams to make a move and if anyone was hoping to gain on the Streepers, todays stage in Big Piney would have been their shot. That being said, the 2 Streeper teams only increased their lead on this windy and snowy trail, all but sealing the deal going into the home stretch.
The Streepers have won 6 out of the last 7 years and the only musher to dethrone them was Aaron Peck in 2013. Peck who had a ran a few Iditarod’s and then started to shift his focus toward the Stage Racing scene was able to win the 2013 race with a few incredible performances when the snow got deep and the wind started to howl. Today’s trail in Big Piney saw more snow than anyone could remember and with the snow falling, the wind blowing and with nearly half of the trail being ran on one of the only sections of trail not groomed by a Snow Cat, it left fans wondering if the Streepers would be able to continue their dominance on a slower than normal trail, or if one of the other Mushers that have been lurking in the shadows could take advantage of some adverse condition and begin to pick away at the Streeper lead.
In the end, Streeper, who once again left last was the first team to return, with Dave Torgerson in tow arriving with a 4 minute slower run time. Although the Streeper teams were visibly more tired (this was the first time in the race that the Streeper dogs have averaged less than 13mph – todays average was 12mph) than the previous stages, all the dogs came in looking good and they were able to continue to grow their lead over their next closest competitor, Bruce Magnusson who took 3rd in today’s Stage and is now nearly 40 minutes behind 2nd place. Streeper who will once again wear the Yellow Bib for the 4th time tomorrow when the race resumes in Kemmerer, is quickly chasing down her husband, Bud Streeper (7 Time Pedigree Stage Stop Champion) who has only won 5 Yellow Bibs in one race.
JR Anderson, who is now getting used to his new rental sled, a Danler, loaned out by the Magnusson’s after Anderson broke his own sled on the way to the start in Lander, was able to move up into 4th place today after besting Jerry Bath and sending him down to 5th. The race for 6th has tightened up and Jeff Conn has Dennis Laboda and Alix Crittenden hot on his heels. Crittenden posted the fasted run today out of the three and she is visibly getting hungry to start chasing down the teams ahead of her.
Tomorrow’s race moves to Kemmerer, the place where Peck (2013 Champion) took over the race and left the Streepers without the title. Perhaps tomorrow could be another Peck-like performance from the chase pack.
Author: Jake Berkowitz was a long distance musher and one time Fur Rondy competitor. He has run both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod sled dog races. He won the Iditarod Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian award in 2013, and after finishing fourth in the 2012 Yukon Quest he was named Rookie of The Year.