Ally Zirkle grabbed the lead in the 2012 Iditarod when she was the first into the Nikolai checkpoint, arriving at 1:14 p.m. EST with her 16 dogs. But she is not without company, as some of the sports' biggest names arrived shortly after Zirkle: defending champion John Baker, four-time champion Lance Mackey, Hugh Neff, Ray Redington Jr., Mitch Seavey and Jeff King (in that order) all rolled into Nikolai within an hour and 40 minutes of Zirkle, last year's 11th-place finisher.
After Nikolai, a small village of about 100 people in the middle of Alaska, the teams set their sights on McGrath, a town about 48 miles away and, with nearly 400 inhabitants, one of the trail's larger checkpoints -- "this thriving community has two stores, a bar and a restaurant."
The Iditarod Insider reports that 6 to 10 inches of snow fell last night and today around Nikolai.
"[Trail breakers] say the snow is a light powder and shouldn't be a major issue for the teams but we likely will see a decrease in speed as the teams head on to McGrath," according to Insider.
It's still early in the race, but somewhat amazingly, no one has scratched. All 66 teams are still in it, with 74-year-old Dan Seavey, the oldest musher in this year's race, bringing up the rear.
On Monday, the Anchorage Daily News caught up with Seavey to ask who has the faster team -- his son, Mitch (currently in sixth place), or his grandson, Dallas (10th), both of whom are racing in the 2012 Iditarod:
"Mitch has never whined that he about cut his finger off last year." Ah, the Iditarod.
Coverage of the 2012 Iditarod can be found on the official website. With a subscription, one can track riders by way of GPS and watch video from the various checkpoints. For continued updates throughout the race, keep it with this StoryStream.