After I finished preparing my last post at about 1am, I climbed into Big Red and fired it up for its routine, every-few-hours warm up -- as is typical for diesel engines -- then set my alarm and keeled over on the front seat for a nap. I woke up a little bit later when the cab was warm and turned off the engine, then went right back to sleep. Promptly at 3:30am my alarm woke me and I climbed out of the truck, fully expecting to have a half-hour or so before Allen arrived back at the Eureka checkpoint.
You can imagine my surprise at once again barely making it to the entry chute in time to see him pull up and check in, still in third place and still only a few minutes off the leader's pace. We parked the dogs and he quickly did the snack-straw-meal routine, reporting only that he'd had a pretty good run, gone fast the whole way and gotten really cold at a couple of points. He then headed straight up to the lodge to have some hot stew and get some sleep.
Aliy arrived a few minutes later -- also still more or less in her previous position -- and she, too, performed the ritual checkpoint procedure. She said her run was pretty good, that her team did very well going up the hills, but that the team was mostly "steady" not "fast." As soon as she was finished, she also headed up to the lodge.
So, I am still here in Eureka and they are here again. All is well with the teams, they're still at full strength and either still "in the hunt" or "doing well." In about an hour I will make sure that Allen is up and ready to go get his team ready for the run back to Sheep Mountain. It's the same 45 mile return route, and being now only about 15 minutes behind the leader he says, "It ain't over yet!"
I will help Aliy take off a little bit later, then fire up Big Red again and head back to Sheep Mountain myself. When I get there I will try to go online again to post all the stuff I have put together while in Eureka, then make a hot meal for the dogs and await their arrival. I don't know exactly what will happen after that, but I'm pretty sure it will involve sleep as soon as possible.
Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to this hotly contested race!