2012 Iditarod runner-up now in lead

Aliy Zirkle was leading the nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday morning with a two-hour lead as mushers turned their teams to Alaska’s frozen and often blustery coastline.

The 43-year-old from the Alaska mushing community of Two Rivers finished second last year. She left the village of Kaltag Saturday evening, followed by Aaron Burmeister and four-time champion Martin Buser.

Buser has led much of the race since last Sunday’s start after going on a mega-run of nearly 170 miles.

The question is who will have enough speed to get to Nome first. The top teams are now moving faster.

From Kaltag, mushers go through a spruce forest and 90 miles to Unalakleet, a coastal town less than 300 miles from Nome and the finish line.