Martin Buser's early Iditarod strategy of sprinting and resting appears to be paying off -- he's currently on record-setting pace, according to the Anchorage Daily News.
Buser's unorthodox strategy of sprinting the first 177 miles before taking a 24-hour rest period left many Iditarod fans wondering just what he was thinking. Most mushers begin the race more conservatively and take their rest periods later on. Buser completed his mandatory 24-hour stop less than 200 miles into the race and took his required eight-hour rest just past the halfway point. That gives him the ability to run the rest of the trail as fast as he dares to push -- but runs the risk of exhausting his dog team before the finish line.
So far though, Buser's pace is about two hours ahead of John Baker's 2011 mark, the current record. Baker took his 24-hour break at a more traditional point further down the trail, but, like Buser, he stopped eight hours in Anvik.
Four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, who left Anvik on the way to Grayling earlier Friday, told the Daily News that he, like everyone else, is curious about Buser's strategy. "So far it looks like he's done the right thing. The guy's been around a long time; he knows what he's doing."
Buser is being chased by 2012's runner-up, Aliy Zirkle, who was the second out of Grayling after taking her last mandatory rest. She is roughly five hours behind. Iditarod rookie Joar Leifseth-Ulsom of Norway left Grayling about 30 minutes behind Zirkle in third.
Still in Grayling, defending champion Dallas Seavey is listed in 15th place. His has taken both of his mandatory rest periods.
Cindy Abbott holds the red lantern position. She is currently resting in Ophir, about 200 miles behind the leaders. Her goal, of course, was not to win the Iditarod so much as it was just to finish the race. Doing so would make her the first woman to both summit Mount Everest and finish the Iditarod -- made even more impressive because she is blind in one eye and diagnosed with Wegener's granulomatosis.
Weather still threatens to play a factor in the race's closing stages. Iditarod.com blogger Joe Runyon reported earlier Friday it was 44 degrees and rainy in Anvik. Needless to say, that is much warmer than normally anticipated for the interior of Alaska, making trail conditions difficult and causing more difficulty for mushers and dogs alike.