Paige Drobny placed 7th to give the race three women in the top 10, and Mitch Seavey battled to his 17th top-10 finish.
Bethel musher Pete Kaiser has taken control of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, and for the second year in a row, Nicolas Petit has lost the lead along Norton Sound.
The Iditarod is won and lost on the Bering Sea coast every year. The big curveball this year: the sea ice.
Analysis: It appears the lead Nicolas Petit built, then gave back, is being built again as five teams lead the way toward the Bering Sea.
Nic Petit has essentially given up the lead he built from leaving Ophir and putting together two massive runs to Anvik.
Since the start, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Nicolas Petit have made it clear they’re the teams to beat.
Between the restart in Willow and the checkpoint in Nikolai, a distance of 250 miles, are some of the biggest challenges on the race trail.
Analysis: A race record seems unlikely.
The Bering Sea will define the Iditarod once again. While details were still coming in, it has become clear that Nicolas Petit, the race leader leaving Shaktoolik, took a wrong trail on the ice of Norton Sound.
What has looked like a three-man race since McGrath quickly changed on the Kaltag Portage and now appears to be a duel between Nicolas Petit and Joar Ulsom, with the edge going to Petit.
Not only has the dynamic of the front three been shaken up, but the top 10 has been infiltrated by a new face.
Nicolas Petit, as expected, just let all his competitors know that he is here to win and if they want to beat him, they better start making moves now.
Joar Leifseth Ulsom has thrown caution to the wind by pushing farther than any of his closest competitors. The move could be a deciding factor in the race.
Everyone who wants to win knows they have to beat Mitch Seavey, and everyone knows they aren’t likely going to beat him in the final 200 miles.
The run from Rainy Pass to Nikolai, harrowing in the best of years, usually separates the contenders from the chase pack.