Musher Aaron Burmeister had a good day on Wednesday as the 2014 Iditarod reached the halfway point. Burmeister and his 13 dog team reached Cripple at 3:26 p.m. local time, roughly three miles ahead of Jeff King according to the Anchorage Daily News.
For being the first musher at the halfway point, Burmeister won the Dorothy G. Page Halfway Award which includes a prize of gold nuggets with $3,000. Not too shabby. This is the first time Burmeister has won the award. Burmeister now leads the Iditarod followed closely by Sonny Lindner in second, Paul Gebhardt in third and Jeff Kind in fourth. There are reports that the frontrunners will declare they're mandatory 24-hour layover at the Cripple checkpoint, but nothing has been made official yet.
Tuesday's leader Nicolas Petit dropped down to sixth place but is still in contention for his first win. This is Petit's fourth Iditarod and won the Most Improved Musher award in 2013 after a sixth-place finish.
Musher Scott Janseen, a 52-year-old undertaker from Anchorage who is called the "Mushing Mortician" is back home and safe after being flown to a hospital following multiple incidents. Janssen first crashed his sled on Tuesday between the Rohn and Nikolai checkpoints, hitting head and laying unconscious for over an hour. He apparently awoke to find his sled nearby with his dog team huddled next to him.
Janssen continued the race but later when trying to catch a loose dog he slipped and fell through ice, breaking his ankle.
The 69 mushers who began the race on Sunday having been dealing with difficult conditions but reports say the next stretch of the race looks good with full packed snow that's ideal for racing.