Four-time champion Martin Buser is close to becoming only the second musher to ever win a fifth Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Buser and his team of dogs maintained their lead in the 1,000 mile race across the Alaskan wilderness on Saturday.
The Alaska Daily News reports that Buser reached a checkpoint at Eagle Island at 9:55 p.m., Friday where he rested for almost five hours and headed out back into the darkness at 2:41 a.m.
Now Buser is facing a treacherous 60 mile stretch of inhospitable wilderness before the next checkpoint at Kaltag.
AP reports last year’s runner-up, Aliy Zirkle, left Eagle Island more than three hours after Buser.
Mitch Seavey, the 2004 winner from Seward, followed behind thirty minutes later.
Buser already reaped the benefits of being the leader of the pack when he was the first to reach the tiny village of Anvik, Alaska early Friday.
The champion musher won a five course gourmet meal cooked by The Millennium Alaskan Hotel Anchorage's executive chef Bobby Sidro, reports the Seattle Times.
Sidro flew 350 miles to Anvik to cook up a meal including "portobello mushrooms stuffed with Red King crab, Alaska clam chowder, a roast-duck salad, a 14-ounce steak and a fruit tart," reports the Times.
Buser also won $3,500 and a bottle of champagne for being the first to arrive in the village, which is home to 82 people.
The frontrunners are expected to reach the finish line at Nome, Alaska early next week.