While the select few favorites and contenders are busy battling it out to be the first to cross the finish line in Nome, like most distance events, there is a whole other race taking place in the back of the pack, where rookies and other Iditarod amateurs are hoping just to finish the grueling 1,100-mile trek.
It's from there, a handful of checkpoints behind the race leaders, that Craig Medred is reporting, detailing "the real life struggles of ordinary people when they cash in everything to chase their dream of becoming an Iditarod dog musher."
Like Karin Hendrickson, who trained just as long and as hard as all the other mushers -- she described herself as "being constantly broke, constantly tired." Her team of dogs is experienced, strong and healthy. So why was she crying on Tuesday?
But she did want to race, and she did until somewhere just outside of Finger Lake. Then she broke the runners on her sled. "I'm going across this flat area,'' she said, "and then I hear this crunch, crunch.''
That was the sound of the runners snapping beneath her feet. Eventually the entire rear compartment of her tail-dragger sled broke off, leaving her with a problem. She still had the good half of a dog sled, but it wasn't big enough to carry her dog food and gear.
She waited, and waited, hoping another team would decide to quit, and then give her their now unneeded sled. But that good fortune never came, forcing Hendrickson to drop out.
Luckily, she was never injured. Rookie musher Pat Moon was not so fortunate. Moon, just six miles away from the Rohn checkpoint, crashed head-first into a tree, though he doesn't remember it happening. As he sat in the E.R. of an Anchorage hospital, Moon, after listing his injuries and suffering from a concussion, was most upset with the feeling that he let down his dogs.
Leaderboard Update: John Baker is the first, and only, musher to have left the Ophir checkpoint, and is currently leading as of 4:30 p.m. ET. Five other mushers are still in Ophir, a ghost town some 668 miles from Nome.