UNALAKLEET, Alaska (KTUU) - A group of three mushers chasing race leader Nicolas Petit arrived at the coastal community of Unalakleet within six minutes of each other.
Bethel-based musher Pete Kaiser pulled in at 4:37 p.m. Sunday, three minutes later, defending champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom arrived.
Kaiser dropped a dog, took some supplies and pulled his snow hook a minute later. Cheers of, "go Pete," rang out from the large crowd.
Ulsom gave his team a quick snack of bacon before heading back to his sled to sign-out.
Kermit Ivanoff, a volunteer at the Unalakleet checkpoint, exclaimed "there's another team!"
A race where distances between mushers can extend to hundreds of miles had shrunk to nothing as three teams accordioned together.
Iditarod veteran Jessie Royer slowed her team down to a stop. A quick cut from a dull knife let Royer pull supplies from some of her bags staged nearby. She left while Ulsom was still in sight.
The three mushers who moved through Unalakleet so frenetically all camped together between Kaltag and Unalakleet for three hours Sunday morning.
Three-time champion Mitch Seavey arrived making it a group of four. Kaiser, Ulsom and Royer all left together just after 2:00 p.m., Seavey stayed behind.
The Sterling-based musher rested while the group of three continued in hot pursuit of Petit. Seavey pulled his snow hook at 5:30 p.m. to chase the four leaders.