Aaron Burmeister and his 13-dog team are first to McGrath

A sled dog team
Aaron Burmeister and his dogs were the first team into McGrath on Tuesday. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Update, 9 a.m. Wednesday:

As Aaron Burmeister and his team settled into their mandatory 24-hour rest in McGrath, at race mile 311, other teams pressed on down the trail to take their daylong layover later.

By 9 a.m. Wednesday, a handful of top teams were racing in between Ophir and Cripple. Ophir is at race mile 352 and Cripple at mile 425. Brent Sass was in the lead followed by Hugh Neff, Ryan Redington, Dallas Seavey and Mitch Seavey.

More than a half-dozen teams had pulled over to rest in Ophir and nearly 20 teams were stopped with Burmeister in McGrath.

Original story:

Aaron Burmeister and his 13-dog team raced into McGrath at 5:41 p.m. Tuesday in first place.

Burmeister won the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award for his first-place arrival to the checkpoint at mile 311. 

As part of the award, Burmeister received a pair of musher mitts made of beaver fur and beaded moose hide, handcrafted by Loretta Maillelle of McGrath, plus a beaver fur musher hat hand sewn by Lucy Miller of McGrath. 

a person holds a pair of beaded and fur mittens
Loretta Maillelle of McGrath poses with the handcrafted fur mittens she made for the Alaska Air Transit Spirit of Iditarod Award winner. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Andrew Runkle gave him a handcrafted fur hat as well. He had meant to give it Burmeister as a gift at the prior checkpoint in Nikolai.

“You made it into Nikolai too fast!” said Runkle. Burmeister jokingly apologized, as his dogs tugged forward on the sled.         

Once he pulled in, Burmeister was tested for COVID-19 — part of the race’s pandemic protocols.

A man in a hat around people
Aaron Burmeister gets tested for COVID-19 upon arrival in McGrath. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Burmeister will take a 24-hour rest in McGrath. Teams are required to take at least one 24-hour rest along the trail. Many of his top competitors opted to continue through the checkpoint.

This is Burmeister’s 21st Iditarod, and he’s said he expects it’ll be his last — at least for a while. He wants to spend more time with his family. He placed second in last year’s Iditarod to Dallas Seavey.

Behind Burmeister Tuesday evening were Ryan Redington, Richie Diehl, Seavey and Brent Sass.

Two sleds next to each other
Aaron Burmeister trades out his sled in McGrath. Mushers can have an extra sled sent to a checkpoint. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)
Aaron Burmeister and his dog team on their way to McGrath from Nikolai. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

RELATED: Iditarod rookie describes trip down steep and twisty Dalzell Gorge as ‘just zip, zoom, zag, bing, bang, boom’

This story has been updated.

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Tegan Hanlon is the deputy digital editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at thanlon@alaskapublic.org.

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