71-year-old Jim Lanier of Chugiak had the jump start on the leaderboard when he took off at 11:25 p.m. Wednesday out of Ophir, but he has yet to take his 24-hour mandatory layover.
Trent Herbst, of Anchorage, left over an hour later at 12:35 a.m. Thursday out of Ophir.
GPS tracking, as of 8:30 a.m. Thursday, showed Lanier still in the lead with Herbst trailing in second.
The rest of the top 5 has some familiar faces who have been race leaders this year as teams approach the halfway point.
2004 Champion Mitch Seavey hit the trail out of Ophir at 3:52 a.m. Thursday with Aliy Zirkle leaving nine minutes later – followed by Dallas Seavey leaving at 4:13 a.m. Thursday.
The Iditarod also suffered its first scratched musher on Wednesday. Silvia Furtwängler, a musher from Rauland, Norway, cited health concerns when she made it to Nikolai checkpoint and officially scratched at 9:17 p.m. Wednesday.
There are sixty-five teams remaining with veteran Dan Seavey holding down the Red Lantern spot.
Since this year’s race is even numbered year, Cripple serves as the halfway point on the trail to Nome. The first musher to arrive at the checkpoint will win the GCI Dorothy G Page Halfway Award and $3,000 in gold nuggets.
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