Defending champion Dallas Seavey pulled into White Mountain at 10:10 a.m. Tuesday, taking another step toward what would be his third Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race title.
Seavey averaged 6.3 mph on the trip from Elim and now has a mandatory eight-hour rest before he can set off for Nome. That means he can leave at 6:10 p.m. If he can make the 80-mile trip to Nome in 11 hours, he would reach the finish line about 5 a.m.
Behind him is a familiar face. His father Mitch, also a two-time champion, leapfrogged into second place early Tuesday, leaving the Elim checkpoint at 6:10 a.m., 16 minutes ahead of Aaron Burmeister of Nome.
As Dallas Seavey has steadily put some distance between his 11-dog team and the rest of the field, Mitch has worked his way towards the front.
Could there be a father-son battle on Front Street in Nome?
"The guys are tired," Mitch Seavey told Iditarod Insider about his dog team in Koyuk. "I can make up an hour from White Mountain to Nome and can probably make up more than that between here and White Mountain if everything's right. (But) if I get in line with the other people that are walking, then we'll just walk in order like we used to do."
Like all of the top contenders, Mitch Seavey has dealt with snowstorms and difficult trail conditions.
"Going into Shaktoolik, (fifth place musher) Aliy (Zirkle) and I got into some sort of a blow thing that blew us each off the trail and we lost probably 15 minutes there," Seavey said. "So the run times look long, but there are excuses anyway.
"The more the weather plays a factor, the more I want a rested team. So it's a hard call this late in the game whether to let teams go or stay with them and make the same mistakes they are making."
But by Elim, it was Mitch cutting rest. He stopped there for just one hour, 41 minutes before chasing his son down the trail. Both Dallas and third-place musher Aaron Burmeister of Nome rested at least three hours.
Earlier Tuesday, Dallas Seavey left the Elim checkpoint at 2:51 a.m., 15 minutes before Burmeister arrived.
Burmeister had swapped the lead with Seavey a few times as the pair reached the Bering Sea coast and began to move along it. But Burmeister was slowed breaking trail in wind-driven snow on the run from Shaktoolik to Koyuk, and Seavey overtook him.
Snowy conditions have slowed teams from the 8 to 9 mph that would be typical to speeds closer to 5 to 7 mph -- though Seavey, who made the Koyuk to Elim run at 6.8 mph, was still running faster than anyone else in the lead group.
In the 42 years of Iditarods, a father-son duo has never finished first and second. It's unusual for both to even be in the same race.