From Casey Grove in Unalakleet --
While the frontrunners pushed on farther ahead, Wasilla musher Wade Marrs was perfectly happy with where he was sitting -- 16th place -- upon reaching the Norton Sound coast.
Marrs just wants to finish somewhere in the top 20, or even top 15, he said. He placed 47th his rookie year, 2009, scratched in the 2012 race and came in 32nd in 2013.
“We’ve never even tried to be competitive on Iditarod before, so the fact that the first time trying we are is pretty sweet,” Marrs said while going through a drop bag in the morning light.
“I just kind of wrote a schedule before the race and been sticking to it,” he said. “It’s working out really well, and of course the dogs are doing just great. They’re eating pretty good and keeping weight good, and happy.”
Marrs said he planned to stay four or five hours to get some sleep. He’d stopped at Old Woman Cabin, between Kaltag and here, and slept for three hours Saturday night.
Marrs said he didn’t need much rest before he left and he was in a good enough position to not have to cut his break short, even if the others who arrived about the same time were going to leave earlier. The other mushers included John Baker, Jessie Royer, Michelle Phillips, Pete Kaiser, and Richie Diehl.
“It’d be nice to beat them, but if I don’t, I won’t be unhappy about it,” Marrs said. “I mean, that’s Jessie Royer. John Baker’s sitting right there. It’s pretty awesome.”
“If we could beat ’em, that’d be really cool to say that we did, but if we didn’t, I wouldn’t be unhappy.”
Baker -- who's had a dozen top 10 finishes and a win in 2011 -- seemed a touch unhappy to be so far behind the leaders. "I hope I can catch up," he said.
The only thing that seemed to bother Marrs was there had not been any of the energy drinks in Marrs’ drop bags at last three checkpoints, which he’d been expecting.
“I don’t ever drink caffeine, so when I drink an energy drink, I feel wild for quite a while. Even when I’m really tired. But I do have some NoDoz (caffeine pills) in the sled if it comes down to it.”
“I fell asleep a couple times on that run,” Marrs said. “Nothing too bad. Woke up going down the hill the hill really fast.”
“I even fell asleep standing once or twice. That’s scary, because it’s easier to fall off when you’re going along.”