Two mushers closed in Wednesday on the ghost town of Iditarod, the isolated halfway point of the world's longest sled-dog race over the historic Anchorage-to-Nome trail, officials said.
The first racer to reach Iditarod, 569 miles along the trail toward the finish line, will receive $2,500 in silver ingots and a silver trophy.
Iditarod--the namesake of the 1,149-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race--was the hub of a rich mining region that produced $35 million in gold 80 years ago. But it is now just a checkpoint in the barren stretches of Alaska's interior region.
Duane Halverson and Jerry Austin both left the checkpoint at McGrath, which is 151 miles from Iditarod, on Wednesday morning, making them the apparent co-leaders.
Susan Butcher, the 1986 Iditarod winner, reportedly was close behind.