Iditarod 2012: The Race For The Gold Nuggets Is On

Jim Lanier, 71, a veteran of 14 previous Iditarods, has grabbed the lead in the 2012 Iditarod ... but only in name, really.

Lanier was indeed the first musher out of the Ophir checkpoint, followed closely by Trent Herbst, leaving the ghost town at 3:25 a.m. EST on Thursday, but neither have yet to take their mandatory 24-hour layover.

So really, looking down the leaderboard, the 2012 iditarod is being led by Mitch Seavey, the 2004 champion. He's followed by Ally Zirkle; his son, Dallas Seavey; four-time winner Jeff King; and John Baker, the Iditarod's defending champ.

But it's hardly a futile effort by Lanier. If he can be the first musher to reach the town of Cripple, the halfway point, he'll receive a price of $3,000, paid in gold nuggets.

Elsewhere in the Alaskan wilderness, the 2012 Iditarod has its first scratch. Actually, it has its first pair of scratches.

Silvia Furtwängler, a rookie from Norway, ended her race late Wednesday night in Nikolai, citing concern for her health. Shortly after her, Ryan Redington, grandson of Iditarod founder Ray Redington, also scratched.

"I talked it over with the race judge. I made my decision ... " [...]

"We tried preparing for this for a couple years now for this team, and things just didn't go right," Redington said. "It's a bum decision, and I feel real bad, but it's what I got to do now."

Ophir, Nikolai, Cripple ... with so many checkpoints mentioned, ever wondered what it sounds like at one? In short: it's loud.

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 with this StoryStream.

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