Six days into the 2002 Iditarod Dog Sled Race, lead mushers are resting at the halfway point, peninsula mushers are scattered along the trail and families are watching -- some patiently and some not so patiently -- from home.
Tawny Osmar, the wife of 16-time racer Tim Osmar, is pretty calm waiting at her Ninilchik home.
"I've been doing this for 12 years now. I don't worry much about him," she said. "It's a big waiting game. There's nothing we can do but encourage him when he calls."
Tawny said she spoke to Tim Wednesday night during his mandatory 24-hour break in McGrath, about 450 miles into the 1,150-mile race.
"He was in good spirits and said the dogs are moving right along," Tawny said.
Tim was in 22nd place Thursday, leaving the Ophir checkpoint at 1:44 p.m. after a four-hour rest.
Tonya Mackey of Kasilof said she is a little more concerned for her husband, Lance.
"It's a fast trail and there are lots of injured dogs," Tonya said. "According to the Internet he's not the only one having a problem though."
She added that she worries about more than his chances in the race.
"This is his first big race since he was sick," Tonya said, referring to the throat cancer that doctors found shortly after last year's race. "Watching from home, you always think something's wrong."
But, she said, she spoke with Lance Wednesday night during his 24-hour break in Nikolai.
"His spirits are good and he says (the trail is) beautiful."
Lance was in 34th place Thursday after sliding out of Takotna at 5:56 p.m.
Unlike Tonya Mackey and Tawny Osmar, Mitch Seavey's wife, Janine, isn't watching the race from their Seward home.
"She's been flying around following everything," said Gabe Jones, Mitch's nephew. "She's out at one of the checkpoints right now, I don't even know which one."
Jones said he spoke with Mitch a couple days ago, though, and all is going well.
"He's doing great. The dogs are doing great. He was having a blast as of Rainy Pass," Jones said.
Mitch was positioned in 15th place Thursday after leaving Ophir at 7:05 a.m.
Jon Little of Kasilof was only minutes ahead of Seavey, leaving Ophir at 6:07 a.m. Thursday, after taking his 24-hour rest a little early. He had planned to stop in Cripple, but rode into Takotna with a broken aluminum runner on his second sled.
"He was a little bummed, but he's just dealing with the cards as they're dealt," said girlfriend Bree Krosschell, who added that Little borrowed a sled from another musher to get back on the trail.
"Every time I talk to him he seems well-rested and upbeat. The dogs are doing good so far," she said. "We'll see if he can maintain a healthy dog team the whole time."
Soldotna physician John Bramante and Moose Pass rookie Judy Merritt are also on the trail, though their families were unavailable for comment Thursday.
Bramante was in 44th place, arriving in McGrath at 12:46 a.m. Thursday. Merritt trailed in 62nd place, reaching Rohn at 11:27 a.m. Thursday.
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