2012 Iditarod has moved into its first crucial stage with the mushers moving through Rainy Pass, a notorious piece of the trail that has dashed the dreams of a number of competitors in the past. The lead teams are now through that difficult section and have moved into Nikolai, with some very impressive names now lurking near the top.
As of this writing, Aliy Zirkle leads the race as the first person into the Nikolai checkpoint. Joining her at that stop are last year's winner John Baker, currently running in second, and four-time Iditarod champ Lance Mackey. Still out on the trail, but steaming towards the leaders are Kelley Griffin in fourth place and the "innovator" himself Jeff King. Mitch Seavey and Dallas Seavey are both in the top ten as well, making it a very impressive group out in front.
Nikolai falls 263 miles into the race, which is nearly a thousand miles long. That means the lead teams are about a quarter of the way to the end in Nome and by most accounts they are very happy with the trail conditions thus far. If the weather holds out, we should see a winner crowned early next week.
Stay tuned for updates in the days ahead.