As Aliy Zirkle and Martin Buser trade places for the lead in the Last Great Race, Willow's Ramey Smyth has scratched due to dog health.
As of 12:06 p.m. Saturday, 12-time finisher Aliy Zirkle has taken the lead out of Kaltag, hitting the trail early at 3:18 a.m. Following closely behind is four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser of Big Lake and Girdwood musher Nick Petit. All three are on their way to the next checkpoint in Unalakleet.
In all 11 mushers have left Katlag, including Sonny Lindner, Jeff King, Mitch Seavey, Kelly Maixner, Hugh Neff, Aaron Burmeister, Robert Sorlie, and Hans Gatt.
On Friday, Smyth, scratched in Ruby due to illness on his team. Smyth told Iditarod officials he was worried about the welfare of his entire team, which included 12 dogs at the time.