Iditarod Live: The Sled Blog

Polar bear patrol with Sebastian Schnuelle - 11/15/2012 6:09 pm

Seavey on why he sued: 'I feel like I'm doing the right thing' - 5/22/2012 5:14 pm

Jonrowe wins dog care award; Mackey honored for sportsmanship - 3/18/2012 9:44 pm

Happy trails - 3/16/2012 2:47 pm

Third-place Ramey Smyth: 'I almost didn't get to the start line' - 3/16/2012 7:15 am

Meet the Sled Dogs: Colleen & Penny - 3/15/2012 7:09 pm

WATCH: Rapping dog musher finishes Iditarod, raps about the race - 3/15/2012 3:37 pm

Mackey: 'It wasn't the stellar performance I was expecting' - 3/15/2012 12:47 pm

Day 4: Four reach Ophir; top teams still in Takotna

Wednesday, 1 p.m update
Four mushers who raced through Takotna, where 31 others mushers are gathered for rest and perhaps 24-hour layovers, are into Ophir.

Robert Nelson of Kotzebue was first to arrive at 11:58, just one minute ahead of Trent Herbst of Ketchum, Idaho. Cim Smyth of Big Lake pulled in at 12:02 and Kelley Griffin of Wasilla arrived at 12:11.


Willomitzer scratches

Wednesday, noon update

Veteran musher Gerry Willomitzer of Whitehorse scratched in McGrath at 11 a.m. today.

Race officials said Willowmitzer, 42, decided to end his race after assessing his 12-dog team overnight.


New 'leaders' at front, back of race

Wednesday, 10 a.m. update
Meet the new Iditarod leader: Robert Nelson of Kotzebue.

Nelson charged out of Takotna at 8:57 this morning, leaving more than 30 mushers behind, including Martin Buser, Lance Mackey and a bunch of others who beat Nelson into the picturesque checkpoint.

Nelson spent all of three minutes in Takotna before heading out with a team of 13 dogs.

Giving chase at 9:11 was Kelley Griffin of Wasilla. She spent 15 minutes in Takotna before leaving behind a team of 11 dogs.

Take the emergence of Nelson and Griffin as the new race "leaders" with a pound of salt, however.

It's clear that some if not all of the top 10 racers have declared their 24-hour layovers in Takotna. Neither Nelson nor Griffin have taken theirs, so even though they're farther down the trail to Nome than the others, they're nowhere near the "real" lead. Buser reached Takotna more than 12 hours earlier than either of them did.

Meanwhile, there's a new leader -- if that's the right word -- for the Red Lantern award.

Bob Storey, the 65-year-old New Zealand musher who was in last place, just scratched in Rainy Pass, where he'd been for more than 12 hours.

He was still running 16 dogs, but told race officials that he didn't believe his team was up for making the entire 1,000-mile journey to Nome.

That leaves James Bardoner at the tail end of the pack. A 62-year-old rookie from Tennessee, Bardoner left Rainy Pass as 5:15 p.m. Tuesday night. The official standings don't have him into Rohn yet.


Teams take over Takotna

Wednesday, 6:30 a.m. update

The tiny village of Takotna is serving as the Iditarod's Grand Central Station this morning. Twenty-five teams -- almost half the field -- are parked in the village right now. (Check out the scene in Takotna last year)

With race leader Martin Buser of Big Lake leading the way last night at 8:16, a steady stream of mushers pulling in throughout the night and early morning. The most recent arrival, at 5:05 a.m., was Allen Moore, who is in 24th place.

Buser has a decent lead of 1 hour, 42 minutes over second-place Lance Mackey of Fairbanks. Six teams, including Mackey's, are within 52 minutes of each other, a group that now includes Sterling's Mitch Seavey, who has put himself in the mix. Seavey was sixth into Takotna at 10:37 last night, followed by the surprising Robert Bundtzen of Anchorage at 10:50.

Bundtzen's a surprise because he's often a frontrunner early in the race, but this year he's hanging with the leaders longer than usual.

Also among the party growing in Takotna is DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow. She's in 13th place and six hours behind Buser, but she put down the fastest time from McGrath, covering the 18 miles in 2:02.

With the lead pack still resting, some of the mushers are almost certainly taking their 24-layover at the popular checkpoint. Officials standings, however, won't indicate that a musher has taken his or her 24-hour layover until the 24 hours are up.

And remember, when mushers take their 24-hour layover, their departure times are adjusted according to when they left the starting line in Willow in 2-minute increments Sunday.

Finally, another musher dropped out late Tuesday. Jessica Hendricks of Two Rivers, down to eight dogs, ended her race in Nikolai.

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