The lead mushers are moving into the homestretch in the 2015 Iditarod, and there is a very familiar name at the top of the leaderboard at the moment. Yesterday, defending champion Dallas Seavey moved out in front and is now the clear favorite to finish first in Nome. But the race isn’t over just yet, and the two-time winner will face stiff competition on the final legs to the finish line.
As of this writing, Dallas it the only musher out of the checkpoint at Elim, which is situated 123 miles (198 km) from the finish. He set off just 15 minutes before second place musher Aaron Burmeister arrived at that point. The only other competitors to reach Elim at this point are Dalla’s dad – and 2013 champ – Mitch Seavey, and Jessie Royer who is now holding down the fourth position. Three-time runner-up Aliy Zirkle is in fifth place out of Koyuk, but is bearing down on the frontier town as well.
The winner of the race is expected to arrive in Nome sometime early Wednesday. Right now, the anticipation is building that the younger Seavey could claim his third victory in four years, although there is still a lot of racing to be done. Last year, four-time champ Jeff King looked like a lock to claim his fifth title, but just 25 miles (40 km) from the finish he was caught in a blizzard, got lost, and ultimately was forced to scratch. That opened the door for Dallas to nab his second title, but it is a good reminder that the race isn’t over until the mushers and their dogs reach the finish.
Weather conditions on the trail remain very cold, but there is more snow in the latter stages of the race than there was at the beginning. That will help the teams run a bit faster, and seems to be favoring Dallas at the moment. He is currently posting the highest speeds of any of the top racers at the moment, which will make catching him all the more difficult.
It now appears that we should know the winner of the race by this time tomorrow. I’ll post the news as soon as he or she crosses the finish line.
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