Tonight the leaders are out of Nickolai and headed hell-bent for McGrath and Takotna. Some of the leaders are already within a couple hours of McGrath. According to the current standings recorded at 18:56, 17 mushers have left Nickolai. Jeff King was the first out of town, followed closely by Sebastian Schnuelle, John Baker and Mitch Seavey.
Currently the GPS Tracker shows John Baker leading, followed by Sebastian Schnuelle, Mitch Seavey, Hans Gatt, Hugh Neff, Jeff King, Gerry Willomitzer, Zach Steer, Lance Mackey and Aliy Zirkle. Aliy's SP Kennel Red Team is no more than 15 miles behind Baker's crew. That so many teams are running so closely more than 250 miles into the race is a testament to the conditioning of both the dogs and their humans.
Meanwhile, way back in Rainy Pass four mushers have scratched from the race. Zoya Denure and Mike Suprenant cited personal medical problems, Karin Hendrickson withdrew due to a damaged sled and other equipment problems. Her story is well written in an article in the Alaskan Dispatch. Montana musher Ken Burnum scratched in the best interest of his team. Barnum said that he was down to twelve dogs on his team and it was evident that they were tired.
In breaking news, another musher has scratched. According to the Iditarod web-site, " Pat Moon, (Bib #17… from Chicago Illinois) scratched this afternoon after crashing his sled in the Dalzell Gorge. Belgian musher Sam Deltour came upon Moon and his team after the incident. Deltour stated that he attended to Moon who was unconscious at the time, and then checked on his team. By the time Deltour got back to Moon, he had regained consciousness. All members of Moon’s team were in good condition."
Like Ken Burnum's team, I'm tired. I still have a couple of things I must do before letting Grace and Abner in for the night, so I'll leave you to your surfing until next time.