Mitch Seavey edged Aaron Burmeister into Unalakleet this morning at 10:13am (AKST) after a long, nonstop 12-1/2 run from Kaltag that saw both mushers jockeying for position after overtaking frontrunner Aliy Zirkle last night.
Zirkle, who made frequent rest stops along the trail from Kaltag, was stopped about 15 miles outside of the checkpoint when Aaron Burmeister made his move, taking the lead. Close behind him were Mitch Seavey, Jake Berkowitz, Martin Buser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom, and Dallas Seavey. Mitch Seavey eventually passed Burmeister at about 8am. Both mushers were neck-and-neck coming into Unalakleet.
Buser, once considered the hands-on favorite, has faded and is currently resting on the trail about halfway between Kaltag and Unalakleet. He is in 11th place.
Zirkle is currently in fifth about 20 miles from Unalakleet. It will be interesting to see if she decides to stop and rest in Unalakleet or does what she’s been doing all along, resting between checkpoints then passing through and leapfrogging into the lead. She has had 5-hours rest on the trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet. Seavey and Burmeister didn’t rest at all on the long 85-mile run, so they’ll likely have a long rest in Unalakleet.
The big surprise of the night was Jeff King, who reached Kaltag at 8pm last night and, after a nearly 5-hour rest, headed out for Unalakleet. He passed Aliy Zirkle around 8:20am this morning and is now in fourth place. This after leaving Iditarod 12-hours behind the leader!
So here’s how the top ten looks this morning:
Ray Redington Jr.
Joar Leifseth Ulsom