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As Mushers Approach Iditarod Midpoint, Petit Has The Team To Beat

Mar 6, 2019

Nicolas Petit arrives in the McGrath checkpoint during the 2019 Iditarod.
Credit Ben Matheson

Nicolas Petit from Girdwood is consistently turning in faster running times than his rivals and is consistently up in the front of the pack. When others do overtake him he comes back and establishes a bigger lead, as he did last night, coming into Ophir by 1:08 a.m. and making the run in three hours.

The next musher, Aliy Zirkle, showed up five hours later at 6:04 a.m. That means that Petit’s team has had plenty of rest to hop off again, though he appears to have decided to take his mandatory 24-hour layover in Ophir. Jessie Holmes and Aaron Burmeister are on the trail mushing into the checkpoint.

In the previous checkpoint in Takotna, 12 teams appear settled in for their long rests, including Bethel’s Pete Kaiser and Aniak’s Richie Diehl. The first team eligible to head up the trail after taking its 24-hours in Tokotna will be Joar Leifseth Ulsom’s. The Norwegian will be able to hit the trail again this evening at 7:08 p.m.

The Bethel rookies are stretched out on the trail behind the leaders. While Jessica Klejka leads the way into McGrath, Niklas Wikstrand and his dogs are enjoying a long sleep in Nikolai. Victoria Hardwick is camping on the trail between Rohn and Nikolai. So far, Hardwick has a firm grip on the red lantern.