Aliy Zirkle is currently leading the Iditarod on the way from Kaltag to Unalakleet. Former champion Martin Buser, the former leader, is two hours behind her. After taking her mandatory 24-hour layover in Takotna, Zirkle quickly caught up with the race leaders in Ruby. While the lead mushers were resting for a bit, Zirkle only stayed in Ruby a few minutes before leaving and arrived in Galena first, giving her a $1,000 prize.
Zirkle chose to take her mandatory 8-hour rest in Galena, and was passed by Buser and last year’s ninth place finisher, Sonny Lindner, while there, but she caught up with them later. Buser is now in second. He arrived in Kaltag before Zirkle, but chose to rest there while Zirkle only stopped for seven minutes.
Zirkle has frequently used rest stops to pass other mushers. A lot of her checkpoint stops have been short because she has been resting her dogs on the trail, rather than in the checkpoints. However, other mushers then have the opportunity to pass her while she rests on the trail.
2013 sixth place finisher Nicolas Petit is currently in third with Lindner in fourth and four-time champ Jeff King in fifth, all checked out of Kaltag and on their way to Unalakleet, the first checkpoint on the coast of Alaska. The first musher there will win the Gold Coast Award, $2,500 in gold nuggets.
Fifteen mushers are now out of the race,14 having scratched and one having been withdrawn.