The first group of mushers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race headed down the Yukon River this afternoon with a woman leading the pack. Jessie Royer left the Ruby checkpoint at around 11:30 a.m. on March 13. She will probably make it to Galena early this evening.
Following her down the river almost an hour and a half later was reigning Yukon Quest champion Brent Sass, with two teams hot on his heels. Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Richie Diehl left within minutes of each other, right after Sass. Ryan Redington left about a half-hour later.
Bethel’s Pete Kaiser is leading a chase pack 7 miles behind the front-runners, with Paige Drobny, Lance Mackey, Thomas Waerner, Aaron Burmeister, and Wade Marrs behind him. Jessica Klejka is on the trail to Ruby. She should get there tomorrow morning.
Nils Hahn and Alan Eischens both scratched in McGrath. Fifty-three teams now remain in the race to Nome.
KYUK will continue to provide updates on the Iditarod throughout the weekend on its website, www.kyuk.org.