Four-time Iditarod winner Martin Buser is hours ahead of his nearest competitor after Day 2, but he's running the risk of losing steam in the waning stages of the brutal race.
According to the Anchorage Daily News' Kevin Klott:
Martin Buser is on a pace some people might call foolish, or what others might eventually call genius. Time will tell how this gamble will pay off for the four-time Iditarod champ, who is now resting on the other side of the Alaska Range in Rohn, where he checked in all alone at 9:53 a.m.
Since leaving as the first musher out of the starting chute yesterday in Willow, the 54-year-old from Big Lake has kept his lead by resting his dogs at checkpoints for a total of only 79 minutes in 169 miles of driving.
It's unclear what the long-term implications of Buser's decision to press ahead at such a grueling pace will be.
The former champ has utilized a similar strategy in the past, but with poor results. Two years ago, Buser built up a lead of approximately three hours on his competition before sputtering out in the second half of the race to finish just inside the top 20.
He talked about his 2011 campaign with Knom.org's Matthew Smith after that race, defending his decision to press ahead with such abandon. He said that he ran the dogs without booties during the heat of the day, which allowed his dogs' feet to get infected, forcing him to nurse sore paws the rest of the way.
By all accounts, Buser and his dogs have done most of their running during the evening (h/t AlaskaDispatch.com).
Time will tell if Buser's strategy this year will give him his fifth Iditarod victory, but for now, he has most people scratching their heads. According to the AlaskaDispatch.com report, "DeeDee Jonrowe, a longtime friend said Buser never indicated he might head all the way toward Rohn in one run. 'This is new to me,' she said."
The Iditarod is far from over. This race won't be determined by two hard days of driving dogs, and it will be fascinating to see what Buser and his beloved sled dogs are able to do after such a torrid start.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78