After pulling out of Willow during yesterday's official start, all 66 teams are well on their way to Nome today, with veteran musher Ray Redington, Jr. currently leading the pack. As of 8a.m. Alaskan Time this morning, Ray and his team had already left the Finger Lake checkpoint and were making their way toward Rainy Pass, the fourth checkpoint along the Iditarod trail.
Ray has already covered 112 miles since yesterday afternoon's official restart from Willow, with a race pace of 6.25MPH. Other veteran mushers, including four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey, are gaining ground and trailing Redington by only a few minutes as the top seven teams head into Rainy Pass.
John Baker, last year's Iditarod champion who notoriously sets a slow and steady pace, is currently running in tenth place with a speed of 5.98MPH. Baker left the Finger Lake checkpoint by 6a.m. in an attempt to overtake musher Nicolas Petit, whose 16 dog team has an hour on the reigning Iditarod champ.
Stay tuned for more updates from I Has a Hot Dog's daily coverage of the 2012 Iditarod!
All teams have reached checkpoint one in Willow safely, and will be making their way to checkpoint two at Yentna Station later this afternoon. Today's leg of the race covers 42 miles of gently rolling hills with intermittent clusters of birch woods and spruce swamps.
Live coverage of the official start begins at 2p.m. Alaska Standard Time (3p.m. Pacific) and will be broadcast online for free over at Iditarod.com!
In the mean time, I Has a Hot Dog has plenty of cyoot Iditarod pictures for you to caption over at our captioned image builder, so be sure to check it out!
John Baker is a veteran Iditarod competitor, native Inupiat Alaskan, and the first Alaska Native Iditarod Champion in 35 years.
In the video above, John Baker talks about his feelings and emotions when crossing the finish line to the sound of native drums and cheering fans, as well as his dogs, his strategy, and what it takes to compete in the world's toughest race.
Zoya DeNure is a veteran musher and works at rehabilitating and rescuing dogs with her friend John Schandelmeier when not training for the Iditarod.
DeNure and Schandelmeier own and operate Crazy Dog Kennels, where 25 of their 45 sled dogs are rescues. "We're retraining these 'discarded' dogs and running them in the main team or placing them with the appropriate musher" says DeNure. "We're excited to say we're making a difference, one dog at a time."
For more info and photos on DeNure's 2012 Iditarod team or to learn more about Crazy Dog Kennels, you can check out dogsleddenali.com!