It’s been a fast and furious first couple of days at the 2009 Iditarod. The large group of mushers have already gone in and out Rohn and are well on their way to the next checkpoint at Nikolai. A quick look at the current standings shows Paul Gebhardt holds the official lead, with Yukon Quest champion Sebastian Schnuelle in second place, followed by two time defending champ Lance Mackey in third.
Of course, the actual placement out on the course could be vastly different, and according to the Iditablog, Schnuelle and Hugh Neff are actually out in front of the group, battling to be the first to arrive in Nikolai. Gebhardt is said to be just a few miles back, with Mitch Seavey and Aaaron Burmeister are giving chase.
The trail reportedly has a good deal of snow on it now, which means that the pace will slow down some in the days ahead. Temperatures are hovering around 28ºF as well, which should help conditions some, and the run from Rohn to Nikolai is notoriously windy, so the teams are no doubt looking forward to getting this leg behind them.
There are a lot of racers bunched up near the top right now, and I expect that things will begin to shake out in the next few days. I expect Jeff King, who is currently sitting in 14th place on the official chart, to make a move to get near the top once again. He’s been running some fast times between the checkpoints, and also is stocking up on rest time as well. That should serve him and his team well down the stretch. But really, the top ten reads like a whose-who of the Iditarod, with any number of good racers sitting in a good place.