NOME, Alaska (KTUU) — Updated 9:42 p.m. Monday:
Nicolas Petit has scratched at Shaktoolik at 7 p.m. according to a statement from Iditarod race officials.
The statement says Petit scratched "in the best interest of his team's mental well-being."
Petit had 10 dogs on his team at the time he scratched, after a nearly 12-hour rest at the Shelter Island Cabin outside of Shaktoolik.
Race officials say Petit and his dogs were taken back to Shaktoolik by snowmachine and trail sled.
This is a developing story.
Updated 9:30 p.m. Monday:
The Iditarod GPS tracker has updated Petit's position as of 9:18 p.m., showing him in Shaktoolik.
He still appears in sixth place on the official standings page.
Tonight on the Late Edition, Channel 2 will hear from DeeDee Jonrowe, who spoke with Petit today.
Original Story 7 p.m. Monday:
Once leading the race, last year’s Iditarod runner-up Nicolas Petit appears to be returning to the checkpoint of Shaktoolik Monday evening.
Petit’s dog team stalled on the ice just out of Shaktoolik for hours Monday morning, before moving forward to a shelter cabin.
The race’s GPS tracker shows that Petit made slight progress beyond the cabin at about 11 a.m. Monday morning, before turning back to the cabin again. At about 4:30 p.m., the GPS tracker shows Petit’s team moving south, back toward Shaktoolik, beginning at about 5 p.m. The team was moving about 16.4 mph at the time, according to the tracker, nearly double Petit’s average 7.9 mph over the course of the race.
Petit told Iditarod Insider crews Monday morning that a dog fight amongst his team, and his yell in response to it, prompted the team to slow to a crawl, and after a lengthy rest on the ice, the team proceeded to the cabin.
Iditarod volunteers in Nome said they did not know of any efforts to retrieve Petit or his team by snowmachine, but that if Petit’s team was moving back toward Shaktoolik, the wind was at their back, which could account for the 16 mph speed noted on the GPS tracker.
Race marshal Mark Nordman said Monday evening that he hadn't received official word of Petit's status as of 7:25 p.m.
The GPS tracker's last update was at 5:34 p.m. and it showed Petit's team 7 miles north of Shaktoolik.
The team's initial stalling came just south of where Petit and his team lost the trail -- and the lead -- last year on Norton Bay. That year, Petit and his team went off-track and had to backtrack, giving Joar Leifseth Ulsom the lead and eventual win.
This year, Petit had been leading many portions of the race, winning prizes for being the first to the Kuskokwim River checkpoint of McGrath, the Yukon River at Anvik, and the Golden Coast at Unalakleet.
The race's three leaders, Pete Kaiser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Jessie Royer, have checked in and out of Koyuk, at 2:15, 3:15 and 4:55 p.m. respectively.
Though Petit is still officially in fourth place, having checked out of Shaktoolik before the others, the GPS tracker shows that Aliy Zirkle, Jessie Holmes, Mitch Seavey, Travis Beals, Matt Hall, Paige Drobny, Aaron Burmeister, and Matt Failor have also bypassed Petit along the trail.