The top mushers are quickly nearing the halfway point of this years Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. The event got off to a fast start this past weekend and now has some very familiar names lurking near the top of the leaderboard. But with more than 500 miles (800 km) left to go, there is a lot of racing yet to come, with the most demanding stages still to be run.
As of this writing, the 2019 Iditarod is currently being led by Nicolas Petit, who is out of the Shageluk checkpoint. That means he has passed the 487 mile (783 km) marker of the 1000 mile (1600 km) event. So far, Petit is the only musher to depart from Shageluk, although last year’s winner Joar Leifseth Ulsom has closed the gap considerably and is now in second place. Currently, he is in Shageluk and preparing to depart in pursuit of the leader. Other familiar names that are not far back include Jessie Royer in third place, Ryan Redington in fifth, and Mitch Seavey in sixth.
All of the mushers in the top ten have already taken their mandatory 24 hour rest, although each of them will be required to take another 8 hour break before it is all said and done. When they choose to do that exactly remains to be seen, but it will play into their strategy as they complete the southern end of the trail and make their turn for the Yukon.
For 2019 the trail conditions have been much better then they have been in recent years, which makes things easier and safer for both the mushers and the dogs. Thats allowing them to set a fairly brisk pace. It’s tough to predict when the winner will arrive in Nome, but based on current conditions it is possible we could see the first teams reach the finish line as early as Monday or Tuesday of next week.
You can follow the progress of all of the teams on the 2019 Iditarod website.
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