With their arrival to the Athabascan village of Ruby, the mushers of the 2014 Iditarod are in for a much better racing experience than they've had over the past few days.
The 50-mile stretch from Ruby to Galena is all on the Yukon River. It recently got hit with a few inches of snow, according to the Associated Press, which makes for good traction for mushers. A five- to eight-hour run is the norm for this stretch as long as the mushers stay within the marked area, per the official Iditarod website, as the river is as wide as two miles in some places and can have pockets of thin ice away from the designated trail. It's viewed as a relatively simple run on which mushers have been known to take naps or make modifications to their sleds.
That means Martin Buser, who is currently in third place but is behind two mushers who have yet to take their mandatory 24-hour layovers, could jump out to a significant lead depending on how long he decides to stay in Ruby after arriving at 6:44 p.m. local time on Thursday.
Jeff King is on top after settling into Ruby an hour ahead of second-place musher Sonny Lindner. King cannot leave the checkpoint until, at the earliest, 6:41 a.m. local time on Friday, while Lindner must stay at least an hour beyond that.