Defending champion Lance Mackey and four-time winner Jeff King waged a close head-to-head battle down the Seward Peninsula Monday as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race entered its final decisive hours.
The mushers arrived in windswept Shaktoolik minutes apart Monday before Mackey pulled out onto the ice of Norton Bay to make the 58-mile crossing to Koyuk at 5:57 a.m. Just 170 miles of racing remained before the Nome finish line, which the winner was expected to reach Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
Mackey, the Fairbanks musher and four-time winner of the Yukon Quest, left Unalakleet first and arrived first in Shaktoolik, 14 minutes ahead of King. Denali Park's King, meanwhile, continued to post faster times between checkpoints behind the same 16 dogs that began this 1,100-mile marathon in Willow eight days ago.
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