With less than 120 miles to Nome and roughly 20 minutes separating first and second place sled dog teams, the battle for this year's Iditarod championship is coming right down to the wire.
Earlier this morning, Dallas Seavey blasted through Koyuk and pushed his team forward to Elim, the 18th checkpoint along the trail, situated along the coast of the Bering Sea and only 95 miles from Nome. Meanwhile, Aily Zirkle is nipping at Seavey's heels. Although Zirkle is trailing by 20 minutes, she is running a team of 12 dogs while Seavey is down to just 11, allowing her to gain ground and time on the leader with each passing mile.
Be sure to check in tomorrow for what is sure to be the final day of the 2012 Iditarod race! My money is on Zirkle to bring it all in, but I'll never count a Seavey out, so at this point it is anyone's guess! Who knows, maybe even last year's winner John Baker will pull some tricks out of his sleeve and jump from fourth to first down the home stretch!
With 30 of the 66 teams already resting at Takotna, the eighth checkpoint along the Iditarod trail, this year's race is on pace to be the fastest ever recorded.
Takotna is situated over 350 miles from Anchorage and only 623 miles from Nome. Most mushers have chosen this checkpoint as the location to take their 24 hour break, and there has been little change in the top standings as a result.
Aliy Zirkle is still in first place, with John Baker holding on tight to second. Surprisingly, Lance Mackey has slipped from third to 32nd place and has decided to take a long rest at McGrath, rather than push his team the final 18 miles to Takotna.
Taking Mackey's place behind Zirkle and Baker is Mitch Seavey, the 2004 Iditarod champion and veteran musher who had to withdraw last year at Ophir after severely injuring his fingers with an axe. Seavey is fielding an almost identical team to the one he ran in 2011 and should be considered a serious contender for this year's Iditarod race.
For current standings, checkpoint interviews, and in-depth Iditarod news visit Iditarod.com!