IDITAROD, Alaska (KTUU) - Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom says he had "mixed feelings" about driving his team to the town of Iditarod while other race favorites took their 24-layovers further back on the trail.
"First I was thinking like it was a really stupid move breaking trail and going so slow," Leifseth Ulsom told Channel 2 in the ghost-town checkpoint. The musher says that he's happy though with how his dogs look at the halfway point in the race. "I've got four two-and-half-year-olds that have been phenomenal."
Coming first into Iditarod has other benefits, Ulsom received the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award that comes with a trophy and $3,000 in gold nuggets.
Ulsom described the tough conditions from McGrath to a Channel 2 crew as snow blew in the trail. "I've been standing on one runner, kicking the whole freaking way. You know, it's a lot of pressure on one foot and it's like three million squats."
French musher Nic Petit arrived in Iditarod at 2:28 p.m. on Thursday, followed 45 minutes later by defending champion Mitch Seavey. Petit made the trip from Ophir in 12 hours and 15 minutes, a full three hours faster than Ulsom. Seavey wasn't far behind, making the 90-mile journey in 13 hours and five minutes.
Ulsom declared his 24-hour layover in Iditarod Wednesday evening and he won't be able to leave the checkpoint until after 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Meanwhile, four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King arrived into Iditarod around an hour behind Seavey and Petit and immediately declared his 24-hour layover.