Things are heating up in this year’s Iditarod as the front runners have managed to separate themselves a bit from the pack and are now preparing for the stretch run to Nome. Over the weekend the top contenders sparred with one anther out on the trail, but as the race enters its second week it appears they are now ready to push on to the finish line in what could be one of the most exciting finishes in quite some time.
As of this writing, 24-year old Dallas Seavey leads the race with Aliy Zirkle running a close second. The two mushers are the only racers who are in and out of the Koyuk checkpoint, although several other teams are currently resting there at the moment. Aaron Burmeister holds down the third spot on the leaderboard, with defending champ John Baker in fourth and Peter Kaiser currently in fifth. Mitch Seavey and Ramey Smyth are the only other two competitors to reach Koyuk and are ranked sixth and seventh respectively.
The Koyuk CP is officially listed as 852 miles into the race, which leaves just 123 more miles to go until Nome. At this point in the competition, each of those miles starts to become a very precious commodity as the racers start to jockey for position on the stretch run. Strategy will play a vital role here as they try to strike a balance between speed out on the trail and getting plenty of rest in the four remaining checkpoints. At the moment, any one of the top three or four racers can still win the Iditarod and is should be a very exciting finish for fans of the race.
There was one notable scratch over the weekend as four-time champ Jeff King was forced to withdraw yesterday when his dogs decided they had had enough. King and his team were reportedly 12 miles outside of Unalakleet when they simply stopped running and elected to just lay down in the snow. The experienced musher knew that there was something wrong and immediately called for a vehicle to pick up the dogs. The action is another indication of how much the racers care for their teams, as most would prefer to pull-out rather than risk the health of their teams.
Stay tuned for further updates. It is beginning to look like we will have a winner sometime tomorrow.
For more Iditarod coverage be sure to checkout the Iditablog!
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