Saturday, February 2, 2013

Yukon Quest has started

Hands-down my favorite dogsled race, and easily my favorite event in Alaska.  There are a lot of people I'd be very happy to see win this year, and some others who are likely to run further back but who I wish a really fantastic race.

Anyway, I'd have thought that only two hours into the race there wouldn't be anything to say, but as it turns out there isn't much to say but here are a few observations:

  • Trackleaders' "race flow chart" (one of the best tools in Trackleaders' analytic arsenal) shows Hugh traveling consistently faster than the others.  That's worked well for him in the past but more often has not worked well at all.  It's safe to predict that he'd go out fast and less safe to predict whether or not it will work for him.  Here's a screen grab of the race flow chart at about 1:15 Yukon time:
  • There's been talk of the Quest using spreadsheets this year to maintain their race data.  I hope that's the case and I especially hope that they've got them set up to do the speed/time/etc. calculations for them to save them a lot of time and effort
  • The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner printed an article on "What You Need to Know about the 2013 Yukon Quest."  In it, the reporter says "For fans tracking teams on the Internet, that means the standings after the Carmacks checkpoint will provide an accurate picture of who is leading the race."  A couple of points about that: 
    • Some people who are serious contenders are going to take it easy at least until Dawson City and may be hanging in the middle of the pack, or towards the back of the front of the pack depending on how things play out.  If Hugh's dogs aren't looking that great there may be a temptation to let him flame out.  At any rate I'm not sure that the standings at Carmacks have much predictive power.
    • We know what the start differentials are, so you don't need to have them actually taken in order to be able to figure out their impact on standings.
Best wishes to the mushers, the dogs, the handlers, the race officials, vets, photographers, press, Quest professional staff, trailbreakers, volunteers - everybody doing the hard work to put this epic northern event together.  

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