ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Four-time winner Jeff King held his lead in the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, with defending champion Lance Mackey among the former champs not far behind.
King pulled into the Nulato checkpoint at 3:13 a.m. Saturday, nearly an hour and a half ahead of Mackey, who was second into the checkpoint. King of Denali Park was back on the trail at 7:20. Iditarod veteran Hugh Neff pulled out 37 minutes later and Mackey was third out, leaving a scant one minute after Neff.
Next out of Nulato was 2004 winner Mitch Seavey. Canada’s Hans Gatt, fresh off his fourth win in the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in February, was in fifth place. He was followed by Sonny Lindner, winner of the very first Quest.
Nulato is about 350 miles from the finish line in Nome, where it was 30 degrees below zero Saturday morning.
After leaving Nulato, teams will embark on a 42-mile run along the frozen Yukon River to the next checkpoint in the village of Kaltag, where mushers will then head for the Bering Sea coast.
Mackey, who lives in Fairbanks, has won three back-to-back Iditarods and is a four-time Quest champion. His father, Dick, won the race by one second in 1983 over Rick Swenson, the race’s only five-time winner. Swenson was in 14th position Saturday. Mackey’s brother, Rick, also is an Iditarod champion.