mentioned last week, the 2012 Iditarod got underway this past weekend with 66 musher setting out on Saturday from the ceremonial start in Anchorage. That first stage ran for just 11 miles, ending at Campbell Airstrip, where the teams were promptly loaded up and moved to the town of Willow for the official re-start yesterday. That took place as scheduled and the mushers are all now officially out on the course and making their way towards Nome.
Like any long distance race, the first few days of the event rarely have an impact on the final outcome. That said however, there are already a few well known names lurking at the top of the leaderboard. As of this writing, Nicolas Petit is currently in first place and the only competitor that has reached Finger Lake, the fifth checkpoint of the race located 153 miles down the trail. Bren Sass is in second, with Tom Thurston in third, followed by Ray Redington, Jr and defending champ John Baker rounding out the top five. All of those teams are through the Skwentna checkpoint and are now en route to Finger Lake.
Other names of note include Hugh Neff, winner of the 2012 Yukon Quest, currently running in the sixth position and former champs Mitch Seavey and Lance Mackey running in the ninth and tenth positions respectively.
At the moment, the mushers are still fairly well grouped up with not a lot of distance between them. That will likely begin to change today as racers start to reach the more challenging sections of the trail starting at Rainy Pass, the first checkpoint after Finger Lake. Over the next few days we should start to see the real contenders start to emerge, with the first teams expected to arrive in Nome sometime early next week.