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Buser arrives on Yukon River poised to regain Iditarod lead

Adn Staff
Musher Ray Redington, Jr. and Race Marshal Mark Nordman watch a GoPro video of musher Jeff King running his team through the Dalzell Gorge at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall gets hot water from the wood fired heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Robert Sorlie, from Hurdal, Norway, sports a golden necklace at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sorlie was given the necklace by a little girl in the chute at the start of the race in Willow, AK.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall talks about helping out a musher on the Farewell Burn with a broken ankle at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Monica Zappa looks for dry long underwear in her sled bag at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, gets a dipper of hot water to dump in his dog food cooler at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Neff blew through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Marianne Mallory, from Chugiak, AK, chops firewood at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Mallory is a junior musher and hopes to run the Jr. Iditarod next year.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Oline Petruska, Tyler Alexia and Stephanie Petruska wait by the wood fired hot water for mushers to come in at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow drives his dog team into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai resident Oline Petruska, talks with visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nathan Schroeder, from Chisholm, MN, rubs ointment into LoopÍs leg at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Philip Esei and his wife Doris Esei talk to visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Philip Esei runs Silver Tip Guide service out of Nikolai, the last of the three guiding services that were in Nikolai. Esei is a hunting guide for everything except mountain goats.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Ellis, from Two Rivers, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Scott Janssen rubs a bruised arm while wearing a boot for his broken foot on Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Alex Buetow is all smiles as he arrives coming into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Monica Zappa looks for dry long underwear in her sled bag at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle gets a kiss from her husband and fellow Iditarod musher Allen Moore as she prepares to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 P.M. during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Some gear is now home as Iditarod musher Scott Janssen begins his recuperation from a concussion and a broken foot Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Nikolai checker Marty Runkle points out the lay of the land of the checkpoint to Alex Buetow as he arrives at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow drives his dog team into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, leaves the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Curt Perano, from Central Otago, New Zealand, massages Block at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before, his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn, except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, prepares her dog team to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Philip Esei and his wife Doris Esei talk to visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Philip Esei runs Silver Tip Guide service out of Nikolai, the last of the three guiding services that were in Nikolai. Esei is a hunting guide for everything except mountain goats.
Bob Hallinen
Marte Brekke and Therese Neff, from Norway, have their photo made with Dick Newton, ADN Iditarod Hall of Fame member, the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Brekke has been staying in a cabin outside of Takotna for 6 months hunting and enjoying the wilderness.
Bob Hallinen
Robert Bundtzen, from Anchorage, AK, removes his dog team's booties after arriving at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
One of John DixonÕs team dogs looks back at the musher after they arrived at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Nathan Schroeder, from Chisholm, MN, rubs ointment into LoopÍs leg at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Alex Buetow is all smiles as he arrives coming into the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, works on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
A musher drives his team through the spruce forest between the McGrath and Takotna checkpoints during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Ellis, from Two Rivers, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Scott Janssen rubs a bruised arm while wearing a boot for his broken foot on Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Some gear is now home as Iditarod musher Scott Janssen begins his recuperation from a concussion and a broken foot Wednesday afternoon, March 5, 2014, at his south Anchorage home. Janssen, an Anchorage undertaker known as the Mushing Mortician, was airlifted off the trail to an Anchorage hospital early Wednesday morning for treatment for a concussion along with a broken bone.
Erik Hill
Nikolai checker Marty Runkle points out the lay of the land of the checkpoint to Alex Buetow as he arrives at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, winces as she gets up while working on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Flash, a team dog for musher Mike Williams Jr., rests on his bed of straw at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle gets a kiss from her husband and fellow Iditarod musher Allen Moore as she prepares to leave the Takotna checkpoint at 9 P.M. during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Curt Perano, from Central Otago, New Zealand, massages Block at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before, his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn, except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Anna Berington passes through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Flags representing the nations of the foreign mushers in the race fly at the side of the trail.
Bob Hallinen
A pile of dog booties lies on the snow near the Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Williams Jr. sits on his dog sled as he changes batteries in his headlamp at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Aliy Zirkle, from Two Rivers, AK, leaves the Takotna checkpoint at 9 p.m. after a 24-hour layover during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Robert Bundtzen, from Anchorage, AK, removes his dog team's booties after arriving at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
One of John DixonÕs team dogs looks back at the musher after they arrived at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Frankie Sayer stands on the brake of Iditarod musher Charley Bejna, from Addison, IL, sled at the Takotna checkpoint while Bejna goes through his drop bags during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Bejna went through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Phil Runkle brings an armful of wood to the water heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Marte Brekke and Therese Neff, from Norway, have their photo made with Dick Newton, ADN Iditarod Hall of Fame member, the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Brekke has been staying in a cabin outside of Takotna for 6 months hunting and enjoying the wilderness.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
A musher drives his team through the spruce forest between the McGrath and Takotna checkpoints during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Robert Sorlie, from Hurdal, Norway, sports a golden necklace at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Sorlie was given the necklace by a little girl in the chute at the start of the race in Willow, AK.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Ray Redington, Jr. and Race Marshal Mark Nordman watch a GoPro video of musher Jeff King running his team through the Dalzell Gorge at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall gets hot water from the wood fired heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, works on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, puts coats on his dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Flash, a team dog for musher Mike Williams Jr., rests on his bed of straw at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, gets a dipper of hot water to dump in his dog food cooler at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Neff blew through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Iditarod musher Newton Marshall talks about helping out a musher on the Farewell Burn with a broken ankle at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Karin Hendrickson, from Wasilla, AK, winces as she gets up while working on her sled at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Hendrickson said that every bolt on her sled is loose and every muscle in her body is sore including neck muscles when she yawns.
Bob Hallinen
A pile of dog booties lies on the snow near the Mats Pettersson, from Kiruna, Sweden, dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Mike Williams Jr. sits on his dog sled as he changes batteries in his headlamp at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Marianne Mallory, from Chugiak, AK, chops firewood at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Mallory is a junior musher and hopes to run the Jr. Iditarod next year.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai residents Oline Petruska, Tyler Alexia and Stephanie Petruska wait by the wood fired hot water for mushers to come in at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Anna Berington passes through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Flags representing the nations of the foreign mushers in the race fly at the side of the trail.
Bob Hallinen
Michelle Phillips, from Tagash, YT, Canada, feeds her dog team at the Takotna checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Phil Runkle brings an armful of wood to the water heater at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The checkpoint provides hot water for all of the mushers.
Bob Hallinen
Musher Hugh Neff, from Tok, AK, went through the Takotna checkpoint without stopping to rest during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Christian Turner snacks his dogs at the Nikolai checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The day before his gangline broke and he lost his team in the Farewell Burn except for the two wheel dogs.
Bob Hallinen
Nikolai resident Oline Petruska, talks with visitors at the Nikolai checkpoint during the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race at sunrise on Wednesday, March 5, 2014.
Bob Hallinen
Frankie Sayer stands on the brake of Iditarod musher Charley Bejna, from Addison, IL, sled at the Takotna checkpoint while Bejna goes through his drop bags during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Bejna went through the checkpoint without stopping to rest.
Bob Hallinen

UPDATE 7:15 p.m. Thursday:

From Beth Bragg

Martin Buser is in Ruby, and as long as he doesn't stay for more than 12 hours, he will leapfrog past Jeff King and Sonny Lindner.

Buser arrived at 6:44 p.m. King and Lindner arrived about 12 hours earlier and are taking their 24-hour mandatory layovers there.

King's layover ends at 6:41 a.m. Friday, but then he has to make up the stagger from the race's two-minute-interval start. He started 16th among 70 mushers, so another 106 minutes will be added to his layover time -- putting him out of Ruby at 8:27 a.m. Friday.

Lindner's layover ends at 7:41 a.m. Friday, and he doesn't have to add time to his layover because he was the last musher to leave the start line. So he can leave right at 7:41.

Buser has already taken his 24-hour break. He can leave Ruby whenever he wants.

UPDATE 3:30 p.m. Thursday:

From Beth Bragg

It's that time in the Iditarod when fans must do a little math in order to determine who's winning the race.

Jeff King and Sonny Lindner are the mushers closest to Nome. They're hanging out in Ruby, at least one of them with a full stomach (King won the gourmet meal awarded to the first musher who reaches that Yukon River checkpoint).

Four or five hours behind them is Martin Buser, who mathematically appears to be in the lead. Here's why:

Buser left Cripple at 8:25 a.m. Thursday. King and Lindner made the run from there to Ruby in 10 to 10 and a half hours, so if Buser runs a similar pace, he should reach Ruby around 7 p.m. Thursday.

If King and Lindner decide to take their mandatory 24-hour layover in Ruby (according to Iditarod.com's Joe Runyan, King has decided to take his break there), they won't be able to leave until Friday morning -- King can't leave earlier than 6:41 a.m. and Lindner can't leave earlier than 7:41 a.m.

Buser has already taken his 24-hour rest. He is sure to rest his team for a few hours in Ruby, but unless he stays 12 hours -- which is highly unlikely, barring injury or illness -- he will leave the checkpoint hours before King and Lindner. How many hours depends on how long he rests there.

Also on the way to Ruby are Aliy Zirkle and Robert Sorlie. Zirkle left Cripple at 11:56 a.m. and Sorlie left at 12:15 p.m. Both have completed their mandatory 24s.

Aaron Burmeister, John Baker and Paul Gebhardt remain in Cripple and appear to be doing their 24s there. Runyan said Burmeister is still nursing an injured knee.

Here's another thing for race fans to ponder: Sorlie, the two-time champion from Norway, appears to have some serious speed on his team.

He had the fastest time by far on the run from Ophir to Cripple -- 8 hours, 9 minutes. That time is more than an hour faster than King's run-time of 9:15. The third and fourth fastest times on that stretch, at least so far belong to Buser (9:46) and Kelly Maixner (9:56).

Sorlie's time was so fast, according to Iditarod.com, that officials who handle race standings hesitated before posting it, thinking it must be wrong.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m. Thursday:

From Kevin Klott

The good news for Sonny Lindner is that his team is 70 miles up the trail from the third-place musher. The bad news is that he is second behind Jeff King, who beat Lindner to the Yukon River village of Ruby.

For reaching the Yukon first, King won $3,500 in cash as well as a five-course meal prepared by an executive chef at the Millennium Alaskan Hotel in Anchorage. The meal included king crab, mussels, sablefish, fried oysters, sockeye salmon and smoked spotted shrimp -- and, of course, wine and champagne.

It is King's fifth first-to-the-Yukon award, which ties Big Lake's Martin Buser for the most in Iditarod history. King pulled into Ruby at 6:41 a.m., while Lindner arrived an hour later. Both arrived with 14 dogs in harness.

UPDATE 6:30 a.m. Thursday:

From Kevin Klott

Four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King is cruising toward the Yukon River this morning with breakfast on his mind.

Soon, the 58-year-old Denali Park musher will pull into Ruby, the first village Iditarod mushers visit along Alaska's longest river, and feast on a seven-course meal while sitting next to his second award for getting there first: a bucket full of $3,500 in cold, hard cash.

This, of course, is assuming that Sonny Lindner of Two Rivers doesn't catch him.

King and Lindner have been leading this 1,000-mile race, which started Sunday in Willow, since they each checked out of the tent community of Cripple on Wednesday night. King left at 8:30 p.m. and Lindner took off 39 minutes later.

About eight miles separate the two, according to GPS trackers. In previous years, each GPS tracker included a report of the temperature along the trail -- apparently not this year. According to Iditarod Insider reports in Cripple, the temperature has absolutely plummeted in the last 24 hours.

On Wednesday night, race judge Jim Gallea announced a 30-degree temperature change since the start of his day in Cripple, a temporary checkpoint of wall tents and Arctic Ovens nestled in the heart of Alaska's wildest country. At the time of Gallea's announcement, the temperature was minus 18 and still dropping. Others at the checkpoint predicted it would continue to plummet, perhaps to minus 30 or even minus 40.

When King and Lindner arrive in Ruby this morning, it is expected they will stay put and declare their 24-hour layovers. Going this far into the race without serving that mandatory break bucks recent trends. The majority of mushers utilize the layover anywhere between McGrath and Ophir.

According to race archives, the farthest King raced before using his 24 layover was to Unalakleet back in 2003. Race rules say mushers can use it anywhere along the trail.

Whether this strategy works remains to be seen. Behind him is a slew of mushers who have already finished their layovers, including fellow four-time winner Martin Buser, who mathematically is regarded as the true race leader. The Big Lake musher has been resting in Cripple since 3:46 this morning.

 


ADN staff
Anchorage Daily News / ADN.com