Those of you who have followed my so-called "analysis" of the CB300 in years past know exactly what I'm going to say. For those of you who are new to following the race (and any of you veterans who need a reminder) here it is: The only thing that really matters is cumulative run times!
Here's why: The CB300 rules require every musher to take at least 18 hours of total rest at the various checkpoints, one of which must be 6 hours plus the "start differential." (NOTE: The "start differential" is the difference in time between when a particular musher starts the race and when the last musher starts. Waiting those extra minutes during their long rest is how the times are evened up and made fair between mushers.)
The top competitive teams will only take the mandatory 18 hours of rest (plus start differential). They will take their rests in different amounts at different checkpoints according to their strategies, but they will only take the minimum. (NOTE: Unless they make a timekeeping mistake, which can happen due to miscalculations made under pressure, fatigue, etc. That's just one reason why having great handlers who accurately keep the musher informed is so important to a team's success!)
Therefore, between the start and finish lines, all the top teams will take the same amount of rest and pro-rata amount of start differential. The winner will be the team that has the shortest amount of cumulative run time!
That said, it is always fun to see who is "in the lead" on the course. Just beware that a team which takes more rest early in the race will appear "behind" but may overtake a "leading" team while they make up mandatory rest later.
It's also great fun to speculate about different team strategies for rest times, whether or not they affect a team's speed, etc. I encourage you to have as much fun as you want with the speculation and drama!
Just remember: No matter where the teams appear at any time on the GPS tracker, the true "leader" is the the team with the lowest cumulative run time between checkpoints! (Spoiler alert: I am projecting that the winner will cross the finish line sometime around noon local time on Monday!)
I will post updates on run/rest times as data comes in from the checkpoints. Meanwhile, let's get ready for another exciting CB300 race… Go SPKennel Black and Red Teams!