UNALAKLEET, Alaska — Three-time winner Susan Butcher and defending champion Joe Runyan gained on leader Lavon Barve in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race today as they pulled into this checkpoint.
Resting his dogs only 3 1/2 hours, Barve was about four hours ahead of Butcher and Runyan when they left Kaltag, the last checkpoint on the Yukon River, for the 90-mile run to Unalakleet, the gateway to the Bering Sea.
Butcher, with eight hours' rest, and Runyan with five, were both less than two hours behind Barve when they hit Unalakleet, where racers were expected to rest about six hours before heading up the coast for the last 170 miles to Nome.
Leaving Kaltag behind Runyan were Tim Osmar, four-time champion Rick Swenson, DeeDee Jonrowe and Robin Jackobson of Squaw Lake, Minn.
Runyan said any one of the first five racers could win the race in the last 170-mile sprint to Nome.