Four mushers -- including two four-time champions of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race -- are in Ruby Thursday night, waiting to see who will leave the Yukon River checkpoint first and claim the lead.
Iditarod XLII race standings as of 11 p.m. Thursday say one of those champions, Jeff King, was the first to reach Ruby at 6:41 a.m. Thursday, earning a seven-course meal from the Millennium Alaskan Hotel and $3,500 for his efforts. Sonny Lindner arrived an hour later at 7:41 a.m.
The other four-time champion -- Martin Buser, who had led the race into Finger Lake and out of Rohn -- was a late arrival at 6:44 p.m., with two-time victor Robert Sorlie arriving at 10:03 p.m. Buser and Sorlie hold an edge despite their delay: both have completed their mandatory 24-hour layovers, while King and Lindner have not.
Almost all of the other mushers among the Iditarod’s 56 remaining teams are at or moving from Cripple, Ophir and McGrath, with 16 teams headed by Aliy Zirkle en route to Ruby and Curt Perano leading a pack of 14 teams to Cripple; rookie Christian Turner was out of Takotna as of 10:48 p.m., with Newton Marshall out of McGrath at 9:44 p.m. Eight teams are still in Cripple, with six each in Ophir and McGrath.
No new scratches have been reported Thursday, since Lev Shvarts left the race between Rohn and Nikolai with a broken sled Wednesday. He and his dogs were in good condition after 24 hours without GPS updates, but weren’t reached by Iditarod Air Force planes until Thursday morning for a ride to McGrath.