Halfway through the annual 1,049-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an unfamiliar name is leading the race.
Trent Herbst, whose previous best finish was 48th, was first into Iditarod, the halfway checkpoint between Anchorage and Nome. For the feat, Herbst earned $3,000 in gold nuggets (in recognition of Iditarod's former role as a gold rush town).
Second at the halfway point was Kelley Griffin, who earlier this year completed the Yukon Quest International, an 1,000-mile sled dog race in Canada.
Prerace favorite Lance Mackey might see his winning streak stopped at four, as he has lost six of his 16 dogs to illness. Mackey has, however, already completed the 24-hour checkpoint break that all competitors must take, for safety reasons. Neither Herbst nor Griffin have taken their break.
A total of 62 mushers began the race, including Jamaican Newton Marshall, the first nonwhite finisher. Last year, he crossed the line in 47th place. This year, he's back for more.
So far, seven competitors have dropped out, including two-time runner-up Paul Gebhardt, who also lost a number of dogs to illness.
The winner is the first across the finish line in Nome. Prizes this year include a new truck and a cash prize of $50,400.