GPS tracking at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday showed 2000 Yukon Quest victor Aliy Zirkle leading six mushers to leave Nikolai, closely followed by 2011 Iditarod champion John Baker. A second pack of mushers about six miles behind them included four-time race champion Jeff King, 2004 champion Mitch Seavey, 2012 Yukon Quest winner Hugh Neff and four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser.
Race standings as of 3:11 p.m. said Zirkle and Baker both left Nikolai at 1:49 p.m. King left in third at 2:49 p.m. Four-time champion Lance Mackey -- whose GPS tracker still showed him in Nikolai, but hadn’t updated in two hours -- was listed in fourth place out of Nikolai at 2:50 p.m., with Seavey in fifth at 2:51 p.m. Neff had been leading the field Monday afternoon in a breakout from Rainy Pass with Zirkle in fifth, but he was overtaken Tuesday.
Twenty-three of the Iditarod’s 66 teams had made Nikolai in just over four hours since Zirkle’s arrival, an indicator of how tightly packed the field was in the early stages of the race. In addition, not a single musher has scratched by the third day of the race, a rarity compared to previous years.
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