ANCHORAGE -

Nulato is the latest stop on the Iditarod trail to see Martin Buser’s sled tracks out of town, followed closely by Aliy Zirkle’s as a foursome of race front-runners continues to hotly contest its lead.

As of 11:30 p.m. Friday, Iditarod XLII standings show Buser back on the go at 9:34 p.m., with Zirkle on the way out at 10:54 p.m. Both took stops lengthy by Iditarod standards in Nulato, with Buser logging three hours and 56 minutes of rest time and Zirkle spending three hours and seven minutes there. Two other mushers who have made appearances at The Last Great Race’s head, Sonny Lindner and Jeff King, reached Nulato at 6:27 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. respectively, but had neither left the checkpoint nor yet taken mandatory eight-hour layovers.

Nicolas Petit is the first of nine mushers now en route to Nulato from Galena, with six more still in Galena. In the next hop back along the trail, from Ruby to Galena, Wade Marrs and six other teams are in transit, while 10 teams are resting in Ruby.

More than a fifth of Iditarod XLII’s original 69 mushers are now off the trail, with Friday’s 5:52 p.m. scratch of John Dixon in Ophir bringing the total to 15. According to a statement from the Iditarod Trail Committee, Dixon “indicated to checkpoint personnel that he was concerned for the welfare of his dogs and their performance.” The Iditarod Air Force will fly Dixon and his 10-dog team to McGrath Saturday morning.