Thursday at the 2014 Iditarod should be one of the better racing days for the mushers, at least in terms of conditions. Rough conditions had plagued the race since it began on Sunday with some stretches of the course devoid of proper snow and causing over 10 mushers to drop out of the race due to equipment damage and injuries.
Things are starting to look up, though, as the leaders reached the halfway point at the Cripple checkpoint on Wednesday. According to weather reports from the course, the snow in this section of the course is fully blanketed and hard packed throughout, which is ideal for racing.
The next leg from Cripple to Ruby is approximately 70 miles moving in a generally northern direction. The trail is well defined, mostly old mining roads according to the official Iditarod website. The terrain is wooded, rolling hills full of black-spruce taiga trees.
Because of the quality of snow ahead, the leaders could choose to push on to Ruby before taking their mandatory 24-hour break. Some had speculated that the frontrunners would take their break at Cripple but they may decide to take advantage of the good snow.
The race's current leader Aaron Burmeister has decided to take his required rest period in Cripple, but second-place Jeff King appears ready to push on and take his break later on down the trail. The bulk of the field remains two checkpoints behind in Takotna, completing their rest periods.