Brent Sass and his 12 dogs race out of Kaltag, holding onto Iditarod lead

Brent Sass races into Ruby at 5:57 a.m. Friday, under the northern lights. He stays for just five minutes, holding onto the lead of the race through the next three checkpoints of Galena, Nulato and Kaltag. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Iditarod musher Brent Sass and his 12-dog team raced out of Kaltag at 10:36 a.m. Saturday, holding onto the lead of this year’s race.

Katag is about 630 miles into the 1,000-mile Iditarod. Sass is headed on a roughly 85-mile trail to the next checkpoint of Unalakleet.

He’s fresh off his mandatory eight-hour rest in Kaltag. He arrived first to the Kaltag checkpoint at 2:36 a.m., winning the Bristol Bay Native Corporation Fish First Award: 25 pounds of fresh Bristol Bay salmon fillets, $2,000 and a wood burned art piece by artist Apay’uq Moore.

Sass is gunning for his first Iditarod win.

The closest team on the trail is five-time champion Dallas Seavey.

Seavey and his 10-dog team raced into Kaltag two hours after Sass left. Seavey stopped for just nine minutes before dashing back onto the trail at 12:44 p.m.

A tattoo says: Run Your Own Race
Brent Sass points out a mantra onto his forearm during his 24-hour stop in Cripple. He says it reminds him not to get pulled into his competitors’ tactics. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Sass and Seavey have both completed their mandatory 24-hour and eight-hour breaks. 

Seavey took his eight-hour stop in Nulato, the checkpoint before Kaltag.

By 7 p.m., Sass and Seavey were resting on the trail between Kaltag and Unalakleet.

Behind them, Jessie Holmes, Richie Diehl, Ryan Redington and Aaron Burmeister were stopped in Kaltag. The rest of the Iditarod teams were stretched across the trail, all the way back to Cripple, at race mile 425.

A race map
A map of the 2022 Iditarod race route. (Iditarod.com)

RELATED: Iditarod mushers look forward to fast river trail, ready to put the miles of moguls behind them

Previous articleHugh Neff scratches from Iditarod halfway into the race
Next articleIditarod teams get some relief with ‘smooth and nice’ Yukon River trail
Tegan Hanlon is the deputy digital editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org.