A number of you have asked me to offers some analysis of the race. Frankly, there’s not a lot I can say that hasn’t been evident on the tracker: Allen and Brent are dueling it out at the front of the pack, exchanging the lead based on their respective run/rest schedules.
At the moment, the two are right together, running less than 2 miles (about 10 minutes) apart. At this point in a 1,000 mile race, that is astonishing and speaks volumes about how similarly competitive both teams are.
Both teams have an almost full complement of dogs: 12 on Allen’s and 13 on Brent’s. The difference of one dog is negligible, and it’s a testament to their mutual dog care that they both have so many dog so far into this race.
Since both of them have taken so much of their non-mandatory rest out on the trail, it’s impossible (or at least I don’t know how to do it!) to assess their relative run/rest times and speeds. Looking at a replay of the race since Dawson, it looks/feels like Brent has been on a slightly longer run/rest schedule (i.e. longer runs, longer rests) than Allen. Clearly, both are diligently running their individual race strategies to suit the particular attributes of their dog teams.
So, unlike the CB300 where I was able to offer you some pretty clear guidance about how to assess who was “leading” the race irrespective of their actual positions at the moment, I’m unable to do that about the Yukon Quest. There are just too many variables.
What I can say is that this race in incredibly close and that we have two "races within the race" to enjoy over the next 36 hours (or so): First, there's the race to Braeburn where both teams must take a mandatory 8-hour rest. Whoever gets there first will have the lead starting the second mini-race to the finish in Whitehorse. As we know from recent history, however, that lead (which will probably be small) will be no predictor of eventual victory!
Finally, don't ignore Hugh Neff or count him out! He’s currently about 35 miles (or about 5 hours) off the lead, running with 9 dogs, but he's also famous for his hard charging finishes! You can be sure that while Allen and Brent are slugging it out up front, they're both looking over their shoulders and hoping not to see Hugh on their tails... Stay tuned!