Martin Buser reached the Iditarod checkpoint just after 9am yesterday. After a five-hour break, he was first out of Iditarod at 2pm and made the 55-mile run to Shageluk without stopping, reaching Shageluk at 10:19pm last night. He continued on to Anvik after a 21-minute rest, reaching the checkpoint at 2:17am. As first musher into Anvik, Buser won the Millennium Alaskan Hotel First Musher to the Yukon Award, which consists of $3,500 and, perhaps more importantly after days of trail food, a five-course gourmet meal, which he enjoyed with his wife, Kathy Chapoton.
The surprise move of the night came from Aliy Zirkle. After initially leading a large group of mushers on the difficult run between Ophir and Iditarod, she stopped halfway and rested for five hours, allowing Aaron Burmeister, Mitch Seavey, Jake Berkowitz, Jason Mackey, Jim Lanier, Nicolas Petit, Paul Gebhardt, Ray Redingon Jr., Joar Leifseth Ulsom, and Jessie Royer to reach Iditarod ahead of her. As the group rested at Iditarod, along with Lance Mackey, Sonny Lindner, and Jeff King, all of whom were still on their 24-hour mandatory breaks, Zirkle completed her break on the trail, continued the rest of the way to Iditarod, then blew right through it, taking 2nd place behind Buser. Burmeister followed her out of Iditarod about 45 minutes later, trailed by Mitch Seavey and Jake Berkowitz. Zirkle rested again between Iditarod and Shageluk, allowing Seavey and Berkowitz to reach Shageluk before her at 1:59 and 2:14 this morning respectively. Zirkle reached Shageluk at 3:50 this morning and left 15 minutes later. She passed through Anvik at 7:20am this morning and now has the lead. She is currently 5 miles outside of Grayling.
Aaron Burmeister did not reach Shageluk until 5:09 this morning, a surprisingly long 11-hour run. For some reason, Burmeister stopped short of Shageluk for 3-hours before reaching the checkpoint. He may be leapfrogging checkpoints like Aliy, because he continued on through both Shageluk and Anvik this morning without stopping to rest. He is now in second place behind Zirkle.
The other surprise is French musher Nicolas Petit. He made the fastest run between Ophir and Iditarod, at just over 10 hours. Compare that to Martin Buser who made it in 13h 14m. Petit rested 4 hours at Iditarod and continued on to Shageluk, reaching it just 8 minutes behind Zirkle, He left 4 minutes after her and came into Anvik 14 minutes behind her, the third musher into Anvik at 7:34 his morning. He is currently resting in Anvik.
Meanwhile, Sonny Lindner completed his 24 in Iditarod and headed out at 10:07pm last night, followed a half hour later by Lance Mackey. Lindner stopped in Shageluk but Mackey continued on and is currently 5 miles short of Anvik. Jeff King didn’t finish his 24 until 2:44 this morning. He’s currently about 10 miles shy of Shageluk.
Right now, Buser is still resting in Anvik, taking his 8-hour mandatory rest that must be taken at one of the checkpoints on the Yukon River. He’ll leave at 10:17am this morning and should be well-rested to take on the headwinds of the Yukon. Buser will pass Burmeister and Zirkle again when they take their mandatory 8-hour breaks on the Yukon.
Here’s the current top-ten:
1. Aliy Zirkle
2. Aaron Burmeister
3. Martin Buser
4. Nicolas Petit
5. Joar Leifseth Ulsom
6. Lance Mackey
7. Jake Berkowitz
8. Ken Anderson
9. Sonny Lindner
10. John Baker