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Aliy Zirkle Races Ahead While Other Mushers Take Mandatory 24-Hr Rest

Mar 6, 2019

Musher Aliy Zirkle heats water for her dogs in the Iditarod McGrath checkpoint on March 5, 2019.
Credit Ben Matheson

It’s relatively quiet on the Iditarod Trail. Many mushers are taking their required 24-hour rest, with one significant exception: Aliy Zirkle is making a run for it. Her team left Ophir a little after 8 a.m., leaving behind former front-runner Nicolas Petit, who is doing his 24-hour layover, along with Jesse Holmes and Aaron Burmeister. In the history of the race, others have made that push. Time will tell if it will benefit Zirkle when she is stuck staying put while others who have completed their 24-hour rests mush by her.

On his way into Ophir this afternoon is four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser. He left behind 16 teams in Takotna, all who appear to be spending the day there. With them is reigning champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom, who can get back to mushing at 7:08 p.m. and become the first to complete the mandatory 24-hour rest period. Also waiting to get back on the trail in Takotna are Bethel’s Pete Kaiser and Aniak musher Richie Diehl. Mushers are still arriving at Takotna, including this year’s front-running Iditarod rookie Ed Hopkins. Behind him are twin mushers Anna and Kristy Berington.

Choosing to take their 24-hour break in McGrath are 11 teams, including Bethel rookie Jessica Klejka. The two other Bethel rookies are both behind her. Niklas Wikstrand left Nikolai this morning, headed to McGrath, while Victoria Hardwick is bringing up the rear, mushing at a leisurely rate to Nikolai.