After nearly 1,000 miles of racing, eight minutes separated the dog teams of defending Iditarod champion Lance Mackey and four-time victor Jeff King. The two frontrunners pulled into the Koyuk checkpoint early this afternoon just 130 miles from the finish line on Nome's Front Street and a monumental victory -- no matter which musher wins.
If it's King, the Denali Park musher would tie Rick Swenson as the race's winningest musher.
If it's Mackey, the Fairbanks dog driver will have pulled off a remarkable Yukon Quest-Iditarod double for the second consecutive year.
And while the pair seemed secure in claiming the top two spots, a mob of mushers was close behind, duking it out for top-10 spots. Less that two hours separated third place from 14th place into Shaktoolik.
The weather remained mild by Iditarod standards, but at least it was below freezing. Temperatures had climbed into the 40s during much of the early part of the race, difficult running for dogs accustomed to much cooler weather.