Update, 12:10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 6:
Nic Petit reached Forks Roadhouse at 10:50 p.m. Friday, 77 miles from the finish line.
He was one of several mushers who left Trapper Creek on Friday night after serving their mandatory four-hour layovers there. The run to Forks Roadhouse is 40 miles.
Petit was the first to depart Trapper Creek, driving away at 6:56 p.m. behind a team of 12 dogs.
Hunter Keefe and Linwood Fiedler were next, leaving one after the other at 8:10 p.m. Three others were on the trail by 9 p.m.: Travis Beals (8:40 p.m.), Julie Ahren (8:53 p.m.) and Aaron Burmeister (8:56 p.m.).
Three-time champion Nic Petit and a dozen sled dogs reached Trapper Creek on Friday afternoon as trail leaders of the Willow 300.
He’ll take a long break there before continuing his push to extend his reign in a race that has known only one champion its brief history.
Petit, of Girdwood, reached the checkpoint at 2:08 p.m. Lindwood Fiedler of Wasilla arrived at 2:50 p.m., eight minutes ahead of Hunter Keefe of Willow. Gabe Dunham of Willow was fourth in at 3:15 p.m., followed by Cim Smyth of Big Lake at 3:47 p.m.
Trapper Creek is 190 miles into the 300-mile race. Mushers must take a mandatory four-hour layover there, plus make up the time differential from Thursday morning’s interval start at Deshka Landing. The race’s usual mass start at Willow Lake was scrapped.
All 41 teams — a field that includes more than two dozen rookies — had reached Sheep Creek, 120 miles into the race. by noon Friday. Trapper Creek is 70 miles away.
From Trapper Creek, teams will race 40 miles to Forks Roadhouse. Then comes a 77-mile return trip to Sheep Creek, where a winner is expected Saturday, probably in the morning.
Petit has won every Willow 300 since the race began in 2017. Warm weather led to the cancellation of the 2019 race.