UNALAKLEET – Now that mushers are past the worst of the race, some feel they have an opportunity to make their move.

As of Friday evening, Martin Buser seems like the guy to beat.

“For the moment Buser controls the race,” said 1989 Iditarod winner Joe Runyan. “The question is, can he maintain his momentum? Because he’s really being pressured by the likes of Zirkle and Burmeister.”

Jeff King and Sonny Lindner are other top contenders, Runyan said, adding that they’re just off their 24-hour breaks.

“They’re in striking distance,” he said.

Two more scratches

In other news, two mushers scratched Friday. Ramey Smyth scratched in Ruby and John Dixon scratched in Ophir. Both said they were concerned for the welfare of their dogs. That brings the total to 15 mushers who are out of the running.

Click here for race standings.

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