Update, 9 a.m. Wednesday:
As Aaron Burmeister and his team settled into their mandatory 24-hour rest in McGrath, at race mile 311, other teams pressed on down the trail to take their daylong layover later.
By 9 a.m. Wednesday, a handful of top teams were racing in between Ophir and Cripple. Ophir is at race mile 352 and Cripple at mile 425. Brent Sass was in the lead followed by Hugh Neff, Ryan Redington, Dallas Seavey and Mitch Seavey.
More than a half-dozen teams had pulled over to rest in Ophir and nearly 20 teams were stopped with Burmeister in McGrath.
Aaron Burmeister and his 13-dog team raced into McGrath at 5:41 p.m. Tuesday in first place.
Burmeister won the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award for his first-place arrival to the checkpoint at mile 311.
As part of the award, Burmeister received a pair of musher mitts made of beaver fur and beaded moose hide, handcrafted by Loretta Maillelle of McGrath, plus a beaver fur musher hat hand sewn by Lucy Miller of McGrath.
Andrew Runkle gave him a handcrafted fur hat as well. He had meant to give it Burmeister as a gift at the prior checkpoint in Nikolai.
“You made it into Nikolai too fast!” said Runkle. Burmeister jokingly apologized, as his dogs tugged forward on the sled.
Once he pulled in, Burmeister was tested for COVID-19 — part of the race’s pandemic protocols.
Burmeister will take a 24-hour rest in McGrath. Teams are required to take at least one 24-hour rest along the trail. Many of his top competitors opted to continue through the checkpoint.
This is Burmeister’s 21st Iditarod, and he’s said he expects it’ll be his last — at least for a while. He wants to spend more time with his family. He placed second in last year’s Iditarod to Dallas Seavey.
Behind Burmeister Tuesday evening were Ryan Redington, Richie Diehl, Seavey and Brent Sass.
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This story has been updated.