Prompted by fierce winds heavily buffering the Safety and Cape Nome regions, a major shakeup in the top standings of Iditarod 42 began Monday night and is continuing into early Tuesday morning.
What began as Aliy Zirkle passing Jeff King soon evolved into a scratch (Jeff King) and a close, last-minute horserace to Nome between Dallas Seavey and Aliy Zirkle. Updates (in reverse chronological order) are below.
3:38am: The race leaders – Dallas Seavey, followed by Aliy Zirkle – are approaching the outskirts of Nome. The first reports from our KNOM spotter vehicle show Seavey currently ahead of Zirkle.
Further updates will follow on this site (in separate posts) after the finish of the 2014 champion – whomever that will be – as well as on KNOM’s social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. As said in a recent blog post by Joe Runyan – who has been very close to the latest information throughout this incredible, six-hour chain of events – we are about to see “one of the most improbable finishes in Iditarod history.”
2:02am: Aliy Zirkle is now officially reported out of Safety, with an OUT time of 1:35am. She left the checkpoint with 10 dogs, dropping one. The GPS tracker shows Zirkle one mile behind Dallas Seavey; the pings on both mushers’ positions are about 10 minutes old.
1:38am: Dallas Seavey is now in 1st position. The official Iditarod standings confirm that Dallas Seavey is the first musher to depart from the Safety checkpoint. With both Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle stopped at or near Safety by high winds, Seavey had gradually caught up to the front of the pack. He arrived at Safety at 1:13am and departed at 1:16am; he has a small team of only 7 dogs in his string. Currently, Aliy Zirkle remains in Safety.
1:19am: Our post on Jeff King’s scratch includes the full, official press release from the Iditarod Trail Committee.
12:45am: Jeff King has scratched from Iditarod 42. More information very shortly.
11:51pm: Another blog post from Iditarod.com’s Joe Runyan, himself a former musher, describes the inclement weather near Safety – in particular, the winds – as extremely severe. Runyan’s post confirms what the GPS tracker suggests: that both Zirkle and King have stopped their teams near Safety. “The last six hours have developed unimaginable weather… winds are horrific at Safety… visibility (is) strictly marker to marker.” In Runyan’s opinion, “I think this race is shut down.”
11:17pm: A fresh blog post from Iditarod.com’s Joe Runyan calls Zirkle’s passing of King “a development that’s pure sports.” “This could be one of the most unexpected developments in any Iditarod finish I can remember,” Runyan says. “I can tell you for a fact that the wind is howling, maybe blowing 45 mph.” A shorter Iditarod.com post from Sebastian Schnuelle states that “the wind is still howling out there (near the Safety checkpoint) and Jeff seems to have issues.”
11:09pm: Iditarod’s official race standings now show Aliy Zirkle into Safety at 10:57pm with 11 dogs.
10:58pm: Iditarod’s official blog has now reported Zirkle taking the lead and King stopping outside Safety.
Original post, 10:57pm: Both Iditarod’s own GPS tracker and independent reports confirm that Aliy Zirkle passed Jeff King just a mile or so shy of the Safety checkpoint. King’s team seems to be have stopped on the trail, and Zirkle, mushing towards Safety, seems to have gradually erased the distance between herself and King. A GPS ping timed at 10:43pm suggests that Zirkle’s arrival in Safety – in first position – may be imminent. Unofficial reports suggest that very high winds along the final stretches of trail may be the cause of King halting his team.