Matt Giblin checked in to Nikolai last night at 12:03am AKST. He made the run from Rohn to Nikolai in 8h 33m averaging 8.33 mph. He still has all 16 dogs and looking very strong. Matt and the dogs have been eating/resting at this checkpoint since signing in last night. My guess is Matt leaves Nikolai and runs straight through McGrath and then stops at Takotna for his 24 hr break. (Note: all mushers must take a 24 hour and an 8 hour stop somewhere on the trail and it is their choice where they do it. Additionally, all musher must rest for 8 hours at White Mountain before finishing the last 77 miles of the race). Matt passes 4 teams during the last leg and is only 30 minutes behind 4 more teams. Currently, Matt is in 54th place but has an additional 4 hours of rest on his dogs.
Trail Description by Donald Bowers, Jr. for this leg:
"This is a fairly easy (but sometimes deceptive) stretch which always seems to be longer than it is, mainly because it is often so boring and there are so many seemingly identical lakes and river bends. The trail cuts cross-country southwest from Nikolai toward McGrath, running along a series of lakes and swamps interspersed with wooded stretches to Big River. It then runs west down Big River for a few miles to the Kuskokwim River, then down the Kuskokwim to McGrath, with several shortcuts across the bigger oxbow bends.
This run normally takes four and a half to seven hours. It is usually a good stretch to do at night when the dogs will go faster. If you’re running at night or early in the morning and the weather is clear and calm, dress warmly and think about dog coats—it can get quite cold down on the Kuskokwim River for the last half of the leg.
The trail from Nikolai to McGrath crosses many open lakes and swamps for the first 20 miles. When the wind is blowing, these areas can quickly drift in."
Weather is fair at a balmy 25 F this morning in Nikolai.
GO MATT GO!