Friday, March 11, 2016

Iditarod 2016: Race Leaders Take Mandatory 24-Hour Break

As we head into the weekend, the 2016 Iditarod sled dog race is starting to heat up. The top mushers are now more than 425 miles into the race, with most of those at the top of the leaderboard having taken their mandatory 24-hour break. As expected, the top contenders are bunched up near the top, although there is still more than halfway to go before the reach Nome, with a lot of racing to be done.

As I write this, Brent Sass is in the lead and is the first musher out of the checkpoint in Cripple. In second place, just 2.5 hours back, is Aliy Zirkle, followed by Jeff King, defending champ Dallas Seavey, and Nicolas Petit rounding out the top five. Of those, King is in the most precarious position, as he has yet to rest his dogs for the required 24 hours, and will most certainly tumble down the leaderboard when he does.

Most of the rest of the field has now taken that time off, allowing their dogs to rest and get ready for the stretch run to Nome. The leaders are expected to reach that point sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday. But first, they'll face another 500+ miles out on the trail, including the rugged Yukon, and another mandatory 8-hour rest period as well.

It should be interesting to see how the race unfolds over the next few days. At the moment, just about anyone in the top ten has a chance, although Dallas Seavey is the musher who is moving most quickly and efficiently. A lot can happen over the next few days though, and who reaches Nome first will likely be in question right up until the end.

By Monday we should have a better idea of who the final contenders are. Stay tuned for more.

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