Iditarod 2014: Jeff King Leads Out Of Elim, Zirkle In Pursuit


The 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race continues today, with the lead mushers now turning towards the finish line in Nome. That point is still a ways off just yet, but the end is definitely in sight for those running at the front. This weekend saw a number of changes at the top of the leader board, but the race has sorted itself out now and we have a clear idea of who the contenders will be heading into the final day. There are some familiar names out in front at the moment, and with just three checkpoints left to clear, it looks like it could be another epic finish.

As of this writing, four-time Iditarod champ Jeff King leads the race by 8 minutes over Aliy Zirkle. Both mushers have left the CP in Elim and are now making their way towards White Mountain, which falls at the 898 mile (1445 km) mark. After that, the only the checkpoint in Safety remains between them and the finish line in Nome.

The only other musher out of Elim at the moment is Dallas Seavey, the 2012 champ. He put in a strong showing over the weekend to move into third place, about 2 hours behind King and Zirkle. Martin Buser and defending champ Mitch Savey are currently in fourth and fifth place respectively. Both men are into Elim, but haven’t checked out from that point at this time. The only other racer to reach that point is Sonny Lidner, who is currently running in sixth place.

All of the remaining mushers in this year’s race have now completed their mandatory 24-hour and 8-hour rests. That leaves them free and clear to run the rest of the way to Nome, using whatever strategy works best for them. King is one of the most experienced mushers in the field and consistently finishes in the top ten each year, while Zirkle has been a runner-up the past two races. And don’t count Dallas Seavey out just yet. He’s running faster than either of the two front runners at the moment, although he has just 8 dogs left on his team, which could come back to haunt him on the stretch run.

Either way, we should have a new Iditarod champ crowned sometime tomorrow. With more than a hundred miles left to be run, there is still plenty of time for drama to develop. We’ll soon see if Zirkle can finally break through and claim victory, or if she’ll have to settle for another second place finish behind one of the true legends of the sport.

Kraig Becker