Dallas Seavey and Aliy Zirkle are on the home stretch of Iditarod XLII early Tuesday, in a confrontation prompted by Seavey blowing through Safety in three minutes despite concerns about winds.
As of 2:55 a.m. Tuesday, GPS tracking shows Seavey ahead of Zirkle by about two miles, making 8.5 mph to Zirkle's 10.4 mph about 10 miles from the finish line in Nome.
Race standings as of 1:45 a.m. showed Seavey reaching Safety at 1:13 a.m. and leaving at 1:16 a.m., arriving with seven dogs and dropping none. Zirkle took the trail at 1:35 a.m., behind Seavey by about a mile according to GPS tracking but with 10 dogs after dropping one.
Seavey made speeds better than 8 mph for several hours Monday night, passing the spot where four-time champion Jeff King scratched a few miles outside of Safety. Zirkle pulled in to Safety at 10:57 p.m. Monday but hasn't left, in the wake of high winds that forced King from the race.
"King indicated to race officials that the wind is severe in the area and he was having difficulty navigating the trail," Iditarod officials wrote in a statement on his scratch (PDF). "He stayed with his team for approximately two and one half hours before asking a snowmachiner to help him by taking him to the Safety checkpoint to contact race officials. Jeff and others are moving the team to the Safety checkpoint for the night."
Zirkle, the runner-up in 2012 and 2013’s contests, overtook King at about 10:15 p.m. Monday, consistently hitting speeds over 9 mph on the trail despite King's major head start on Zirkle out of White Mountain, leaving at 3:02 p.m. while she departed at 4 p.m.
Seavey's father, 2013 victor Mitch Seavey, was about 15 miles behind him, with Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom, Sonny Lindner and Martin Buser out of White Mountain at 11:49 p.m., 12:40 a.m. and 1:33 a.m. respectively, per race standings.
In Nome, rapid preparations to receive arriving mushers took place Monday, with stored snow dumped on Front Street and the Burled Arch in position.
Before King's scratch, Kelly Maixner was Iditarod XLII’s 16th musher to do so as of Monday night, bringing attrition in the race to a total of 17 teams -- 18 with King -- since the March 2 race restart in Willow.
“(Maixner) indicated to race officials that his team was having difficulty traveling against a crosswind while on the ice and eventually made the decision to scratch,” officials wrote.
Channel 2 will air a live broadcast of the first musher to reach Nome, now tentatively estimated to occur at about 4 a.m. Tuesday. It can also be viewed live on Airwave AK, the station’s mobile app, in Channel 2 service areas.