The 2011 Iditarod continues today, with a host of mushers into Takotna, where many are taking their mandatory 24-hour layover that is designed to give the drivers and their dogsled teams a much needed rest. The checkpoint falls at the 419 mile mark of the 1131 mile race, and is often a place where the front runners really start to put a distance between themselves and the pack.
The first musher into Takotna was Martin Buser, who has been running at the front for the past few days. Running in second place behind Buser is four-time defending champ Lance Mackey, who is about an hour and 45 minutes back, with Sebastian Schnuelle running in third, another 18 minutes down. Hugh Neff is currently in fourth place and Ray Redington, Jr. is holding down fifth at this time. Other mushers of note include father and son Mitch and Dallas Seavey, who are in 6th and 9th place respectively.
Buser earned himself the 2011 Penair Spirit of Alaska Award for being the first racer into the McGrath Checkpoint. Given out annually by Penair Airlines, the award is a custom made “spirit” mask and a $500 credit for shipping freight. That probably comes in handy when it comes to getting that sled back home, huh?
Since yesterday’s update, two more mushers have scratched from the race, including Iditarod veteran Paul Gebhardt, who was down to just 8 dogs when he arrived at Nikolai. With 700-miles of racing ahead of him, Gebhardt elected to step aside for the safety of team. Jessica Hendricks also withdrew from the race in Nikolai.
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