From Kyle Hopkins in Elim --
Update: 4:10 p.m.: Gatt ducked into the checkpoint, got back on his sled and left -- now in second place.
A checker told me his dogs looked great, with no signs of wrist or shoulder issues.
More from Jeff King, earlier, talking about Mackey:
"I won't, can't do what he's doing. So he either has to screw up or not." King said he thought Mackey's dogs looked reluctant in Shaktoolik yesterday.
We're about to fly to White Mountain.
Update, 3:55 p.m.: Hans Gatt arrived here a few minutes ago in third place, giving every indication that he plans to blast through the checkpoint past King and into second behind Lance Mackey while King rests.
King arrived around 3 p.m. and essentially conceded the race to Mackey. He fed and bedded down his dogs and said he plans to stay here between one and three hours before moving on.
He said he doesn't expect to catch Mackey -- unless Mackey makes a mistake.
"We'll see if he steps on his cape or somebody else finds a rocket launcher and takes him down," King said.
Original post, 1:55 p.m.:Lance Mackey hurried to ladle hot water and kibble into plastic bowls for his team here moments ago, just 123 miles from the Iditarod finish line in Nome. He stayed 15 minutes before pressing on.
We flew into the village minutes earlier, watching Mackey from the sky as he traveled a wide snow road along a steep bluff overlooking frozen Norton Sound. We'd seen a musher that looked to be King, in his trademark green, not far down the trail.
Mackey dropped a dog here -- a male named Chuko -- and is now down to a team of 11, said veterinarian Melissa Diederich. She said he was fatigued. Chuko is now resting in a pile of hay under a spruce tree near the checkpoint. Picture below. (Diederich wasn't sure on the spelling of the dog's name, by the way.)
Mackey, who is often talkative at checkpoints, had little to say to reporters. He signed someone's hat, shooed away a kid who stepped through his team, and sipped coffee from a foam cup (instant Starbucks with cream and sugar provided by one of the checkers; they said they're prepared to provide the same service to other mushers who come through).
"He was all business," said checker Steve Kovach.
Before leaving, he switched from two lead dogs to a single lead.
Bill Gallea, the checker who made coffee, described Mackey as looking trail-weary but focused and efficient while here. His dogs, Gallea said, looked great.
School kids tried to touch him as he mushed down a village road and turned right, on to the trail.
Mackey will be traveling on ice for the next eight or nine miles, then will hit a climb known as "Little McKinley" and then on to White Mountain.