Monday, March 4, 2013

Iditarod, Monday morning

So, it's Monday morning and the talk is all about Martin Buser opening a big gap on the rest of the field.  It's 8:40 here in Alaska and according to the tracker he's at trail mile 156 while the person running in the second position, Matthew Failor, is at trail mile 132.  That's a difference of 24 miles, or roughly three hours of running time.  Perhaps more interesting is that Lance Mackey is resting at trail mile 109, or 47 miles behind Martin.

Before the race started commentators and mushers alike stressed the importance of run/rest cycles, how they figure into the race, and what it means to keep your dogs perky.  I don't think we should forget that now that we've got a jackrabbit, especially since we're less than 24 hours into the race and we don't know whether or not it's going to work for him

So, here are the IonEarth speed/time plot for Martin and Lance, with some chartjunk removed for clarity.   Martin's plot is the upper one; Lance's the lower:

The thing that pops out here is that Lance is banking a lot of rest and Martin is banking what appears to be none.  Lance took a three-hour break last night at 10pm and has now been parked for nearly 5 hours.  This is less rest than the old-school even run/rest schedules that used to be common, but it's still a good amount of rest.

Also note that Martin is moving more slowly than other teams (when they're moving) so it's crossed my mind that it's *possible* that he's carrying one or two dogs at a time to give them some rest rather than breaking the whole team, but there's no way to tell.  He's averaging 9mph while moving and Lance is averaging 9.7mph while moving, which is a respectable difference (although to be honest I don't really trust IonEarth's averages, so while I'm probably more confident than not in these numbers I'm not 100% confident).

Also worth mentioning and this should definitely figure into your thinking about positions: Martin has the lowest bib number, which means that he owes the most time (over two hours).  To figure out the difference between what he owes and another team owes, subtract Martin's bib number from the other team's bib number and multiply by two.  That's the number of minutes more that Martin owes.


  1. Thanks, enjoying and learning from your blog.

  2. Interesting as always. Will you be making a spreadsheet of run/rest times, etc. for the Iditarod as you did with the Quest?

  3. Thanks! No, I won't be keeping a spreadsheet on this one, mostly because there are just too many teams but also because I've got a week-long out-of-town meeting next week.

    I've been thinking that it might be useful to put together a historical database of checkpoint data for both Quest and Iditarod over the summer, which would make it a lot easier to answer questions and put things in context, and I might do that (as long as it wouldn't cut into my top priority project this summer: fishing a lot).