Mitch Seavey was the first musher into Koyuk, arriving at 7:24 a.m. Monday. Only one other musher, Girdwood's Nicolas Petit, was running in pursuit of Seavey as of 7:30 a.m. Petit and his team of 13 dogs were about 14 miles behind the two-time champion.
Four-time champion Dallas Seavey, Mitch's son, and Joar Leifseth Ulsom followed Petit down the trail, but trackers showed both stopped to rest their dogs before continuing across the ice of Norton Sound.
Some, like Wade Marrs and Jessie Royer, stopped in Shaktoolik for a rest. Others grabbed straw and supplies before taking off down the trail.
Frontrunners mostly conceded Sunday night that it was Mitch Seavey's race to lose. Even defending champ Dallas Seavey told Alaska Dispatch News his father had a lead and speed comparable to what the younger Seavey had when he won in 2015.
But with 171 miles of trail left after mushers reach Koyuk, the race isn't over until mushers cross the burled arch.
"Oh yeah, you never know what could happen," Marrs told the Iditarod Insider Monday morning. "We're keeping the dog team happy and strong so if we do get a chance to give a little push, we can, and we will if we can."