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Leaders (and a Big Prize) in Ruby

Jeff King still has a long trail before the finish line in Nome, but he’s already won something in Iditarod 2010. The four-time Iditarod champ was the first musher into Ruby – making an exceptionally quick run from the Cripple checkpoint – and waiting for him was a seven-course meal and a large cash prize.

King got the royal treatment as part of the “First Musher to the Yukon Award”; the Ruby checkpoint is the first of four stopovers on the Yukon River (the others are Galena, Nulato, and Kaltag).

Our race reporter Laureli was in Ruby to see King arrive early Friday morning:

The meal that King enjoyed would be lavish anywhere, but it was even more exceptional at an Iditarod checkpoint in Alaska’s rural interior (Ruby population: 187). Laureli spent a few minutes with the chef (from Anchorage’s Millennium Hotel) who prepared King’s gourmet meal, on-site:

Lance Mackey wasn’t too far behind Jeff King. He pulled into Ruby less than an hour afterwards, and he spoke with our reporter Laureli about following King on the trail, the state of his dog team, and the advantages of camping out in a checkpoint (versus resting between checkpoints, directly on the trail):

As of 2:51pm Friday, Jeff King and Lance Mackey are the only two mushers officially reported out of Ruby. All mushers must take an 8-hour layover somewhere on the Yukon River (Ruby, Galena, Nulato, or Kaltag), and both King and Mackey took their 8 in Ruby. King left in first position with 14 dogs at 11:08am this morning; Mackey left in 2nd with 12 dogs at 12:20pm.