ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - 3:53 p.m. Update:
Joar Leifseth Ulsom is the first musher to leave White Mountain after his mandatory 8-hour layover Tuesday, headed for the final checkpoint of Safety and finish line in Nome.
The Norwegian clocked out of the resting point at 3:53 p.m. to make the final 77-mile run.
If his 3-and-a-half hour lead over Nicolas Petit holds, Ulsom would be the first musher who’s not a member of the Seavey family to win since 2011, when Kotzebue musher John Baker won.
Ulsom pulled into White Mountain at 7:52 Tuesday morning, Petit, who had been leading the race as recently as Monday, arrived at 11:22 a.m. Defending champion Mitch Seavey was just more than two hours behind him at 1:24 p.m.
The race has only seen two non-Alaskan victors in its history, though they each managed multiple wins. Doug Swingley, a four-time champion, was the first non-Alaskan to find victory in 1995. He won again in 1999, 2000 and 2001.
Robert Sorlie, also of Norway, is the only non-American to win The Last Great Race. Sorlie found victory in 2003 and 2005.
Six other racers are currently on their way to White Mountain from Elim. The list includes: Ray Redington Jr., Peter Kaiser, Richie Diehl, Travis Beals, Linwood Fiedler and Ramey Smyth.
11:30 a.m. Update:
Hours after the first place position, French musher Nic Petit reached the White Mountain checkpoint at 11:22 a.m. Tuesday.
Here, both he and Joar Ulsom must rest for eight hours before continuing to Safety and then Nome. Four hours have already passed for the Norwegian musher in first place.
According to his in time, Ulsom should be eligible to leave the checkpoint at 3:52 p.m. this afternoon. Petit will get similar eligibility at 7:22 p.m. this evening.
Third place musher, Mitch Seavey, is around an hour away from White Mountain. Two other mushers in forth and fifth places, Ray Redington Jr. and Pete Kaiser, are also now on their way to White Mountain after leaving Elim.
8:00 a.m. Update:
At the head of the pack in this year's Iditarod, Joar Ulsom checked in to the White Mountain checkpoint early Tuesday morning at 7:52 a.m.
Norway's Ulsom will now take a mandatory eight hour rest in White Mountain.
Behind him, Nic Petit and Mitch Seavey race to remain in competition for the final stretch of the race.
Currently the other two mushers are between Elim and White Mountain, trailing Ulsom by a large margin of several hours.
At this point, it would take another upset to dislodge Ulsom's lead.
Following a day of shake ups for the 2018 Iditarod race, the top three mushers competing for the finish line are racing hard for the next checkpoint, White Mountain, where they will be afforded a mandatory 8-hour layover.
Out of the Elim checkpoint, the times were stacked just about how they were into Koyuk. Joar Ulsom checked out at 1 a.m., behind him Nic Petit at 4 a.m., and most recently Mitch Seavey, leaving to give chase just before 6 a.m.
However, just one day prior, the standings were different, with Petit showing almost a 2-hour lead in first place, before he ultimately took a wrong turn and had to backtrack, allowing Ulsom to push past.
Now, while the healthy 3-hour lead Ulsom showed out of Elim may seem indomitable, the fact that unexpected shale-ups happened as little as two checkpoints ago means its still very much anyone's game.
The stay in White Mountain will act as an equalizer for dog fatigue, with a lengthy layover being mandatory for every musher.
Seavey, who is also a contender, though even further behind than Petit, represents half of a father-son legacy who have won the Iditarod race for the past seven years.
Whether Ulsom holds the lead or Petit displays yet another shake up and catches up, it would effectively end the Seavey streak.