Following the King's five-course meal featuring Sablefish and blue mussel stew, the mushers will be back on the trail on Saturday, completing the 14th stage of the 2014 Iditarod. The trek from Galena to Nulato should be a fairly simple one, assuming weather conditions hold out.
Although the quality of the trail has come into question during various points of the race, it shouldn't be an issue on Saturday as mushers will travel across a maintained snowmachine highway. The 37-mile section of the race is also one of the shorter stages remaining with Donald Bowers Jr. of Iditarod.com estimating it should take between four and six hours to complete. If conditions permit, it should be a smooth day of sledding, but that is far from a guarantee. Another leg along the river will once again mean very cold temperatures and. Also, according to Bowers, wind could cause the trail to be obscured.
Conditions weren't an issue on Friday as the contenders were able to run fast and began separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Martin Buser remains in first place, more than an hour ahead of Sonny Lindner. Aliy Zirkle -- the runnerup the last two years -- is in third place, three hours behind Buser. (Technically, Zirkle is once again in second place, because Lindner still has to take the required eight-hour layover during one of the river checkpoints.)
When the mushers arrive in Nulato, they will have nearly crossed over the 600-mile point with less than 400 miles remaining on the trek to Nome.