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Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle in White Mountain, with Nome in their sights

Jeff King in White Mountain

A little less than an hour separated Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle’s times into White Mountain this morning. Jeff King arrived at 7:02am and Aliy Zirkle pulled in at 7:59am. Just minutes apart at their departure from Elim, 4-time Iditarod champ King was able to increase his lead considerably over that stretch of trail.

Is the hour lead enough to secure the win? Only time will tell. King will be free to hit the trail from White Mountain at 3:02pm this afternoon, followed by Aliy at 3:59pm.

A typical run time for mushers from White Mountain to Nome is anywhere from 9 1/2 – 11 hours, depending on the team, weather and trail conditions. But this year is anything but typical. Arriving into White Mountain 24 hours ahead of a traditional schedule, Jeff King has been running fast times this entire race. Hear his arrival into White Mountain, describing the rough, icy trail pulling in, and his remarkably fast run from Koyuk to Elim:

Keeping track of arrival times, White Mountain

Early morning Monday, a checkpoint volunteer starts posting arrival times (and eligible departure times) on a chalkboard. White Mountain is the site of the Iditarod’s final mandatory layover: an 8-hour rest before hitting the trail to Nome.

Aliy Zirkle, for the third year in a row, was the second into White Mountain, officially checking in this morning at 7:59am. Chatting with trail reporter Laureli Kinneen, Aliy reports some challenges on the trail from Elim, citing glare ice, losing her lead dog, and getting wrapped around a telephone pole.

Aliy Zirkle, White Mountain

Laughing during her chat with the press, Aliy Zirkle seemed to be in good spirits, albeit tired, in White Mountain Monday morning.

In good spirits, Zirkle says the dogs are doing great, running strong, and says she’s happy to be there in White Mountain. After an 8 hour layover, she will hit the 77 mile trail from White Mountain to Nome at 3:59pm. Expect a finish from Aliy between 1am-3am.