Dang it Jake, this is a great analysis done from far away:
—The Run Heard Around The World—
In a performance that was quite literally unbelievable at first glance, Remy Coste of Coste Racedog put on a blitzing first run that put him nearly 7 minutes ahead of Anny Malo. Linearly, that’s over 2 miles. An unheard of pace. And he did it with 8 dogs. Malo had an incredibly nice run that was almost dead on her time on this trail in 2022, which had put her squarely in the drivers seat by over 3 minutes that year.
It is still far too early to predict how these openings moves will shake out for the francophone titans, but the shock-and-awe strategy that Coste seems to be adopting has been central to every major upset in sprint dog mushing in the last 20 years. For the moment, Coste is in control of this dog race and with the daily reverse starting order he can run up on Malo and respond to her moves. Anny’s job will be much harder, as she has to run away from him and won’t know if she’s running even, losing ground, or running away from him until the loop if she tries to put the pedal down and make a move. Not being in control of this race is something the Malo-Rivest camp hasn’t had to contend with in a few years and they will have to decide if they will alter strategy and try to chase down Coste or stay the course and bank on him fading in the 6 stages to come.
The hard, fast conditions favored Michael Tetzner and his style of dog who came in third for the day, leading a pack of talented and experienced teams that are hot on his runners. The mid race splits indicate that Laura Bontrager had a really nice run that was building in momentum, a trend I expect will continue in the days to come. Jess Moore did an excellent job piloting her crew for her inaugural lap and I think she’ll steadily improve throughout the race as she gets more confident and comfortable behind this dog team. Fan favorite Cathy Rivest will be another one to keep an eye on, as the Malo-Rivest B team usually ends up being a force to be reckoned with. But if there’s one thing that we do know, it’s that the 2024 edition of the stage stop is not business as usual.
Coste’s run honestly created more questions than it did answers. Will he run a fresh 8 tomorrow? Can he maintain this blistering pace? Will there be a price to pay in the upcoming 6 days of racing across a variety of trail conditions? Can Anny respond to the gauntlet that’s been thrown down? But any way you skin this cat, he’s announced that he’s here, he’s serious, and he’s ready to race. And the world is watching.
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