I had a busy day here at work, way too busy to steal even a few minutes to check on the race. That has made this evening's finding all the more exciting, as it's clear that the Iditarod racers have also had a very busy day today.
Sonny Lindner and Aliy have been engaged in a head-to-head race through the course of the day while traveling between Nikolai and McGrath. Sonny led the race in McGrath, but his it was short lived. Aliy arrived in the checkpoint about 15 minutes later, but while Sonny was bedding his team down for a rest, Aliy just kept on a mushin'. The GPS tracker shows Aliy only about 40 mile outside the checkpoint of Takotna, with a sizeable lead over Nicholas Petit, and Aaron Burmeister.
Hugh Neff pulled into McGrath and immediately declared his 24 hour layover. He had two dogs riding in the basket, and one runner had shed it's plastic 'shoe' somewhere back on the trail, leaving the sled dragging on the aluminum frame. "I'm driving a dog bus with no wheel" Neff joked as he arrived.
Dallas and Mitch Seavey are still a few miles away from McGrath, running closely together behind Robert Sorlie and Paul Gebhardt.
The trail between Finger Lake and Rohn claimed a goodly number of casualties for the course of the day. DeeDee Jonrowe, Gus Guenther, Mike Santos and Linwood Fiedler all scratched in Rohn while Jim Lanier and Jan Steves didn't even make it that far, scratching at Rainy Pass.
Writing from Nikolai on the Iditarod website, Joe Runyan reported "Burmeister hurt his knee, probably ACL, it appears Jake Berkowitz
broke a leg, Hans Gatt flipped and had a divot installed in his head by a
rock and suffered a severe stinger that has left the tri-athlete’s neck
and back very stiff, just to name a few of the battered. Almost
everyone is dinged and bruised."
The good news is that there is actually a good cover of snow on the trail beyond Nikolai. Sonny, Aliy, Nicholas Petit, Aaron Burmeister and the other front-runners must surely appreciate the improvement.