Before many in the community were awake, Girdwood musher Nicolas Petit pulled into Anvik at 5:21 a.m. with a team of 14 dogs.

Traditionally, the community rings the bell in the historic Christ Church on the edge of town as the first musher across the Yukon River comes into sight.

This year, Petit pulled into the checkpoint under the silence of early morning. The church bell was frozen. 

After parking his sled, he passed out frozen salmon patties to his hungry dog team while a vet looked over each dog. 

For arriving first, he won the Lakefront Anchorage First to the Yukon Award. His prize? A five-course meal cooked by the executive chef of the Lakefront Anchorage hotel, champagne and $3,500 in $1 bills.

He chose to have Iditarod veterinarian Dr. Kimberly Henneman join him at the dinner table. 

Petit took his mandatory eight-hour break in Anvik, which is required on the Yukon River or Shageluk when on the southern route, according to Iditarod rules. 

Almost six hours later, 2017 champion Mitch Seavey and Joar Leifseth Ulsom made their way across the flat, windy terrain of the Yukon River and into Anvik, two minutes apart from each other.

Both mushers opted to pass through. They'll take their eight-hour break elsewhere. The move put Mitch Seavey into first place, at least for the moment.

Seavey dropped a dog in Anvik, leaving him with a team of 12. Ulsom still has 15 dogs in harness. 

While the two veteran mushers make their way up the Yukon, Petit is busy readying his team. 

At this point, it seems to be a three-way race for first. There's still plenty of time for change, but the rest of the pack hasn't left Shageluk. 

When asked about his strategy on the Iditarod, Petit said what he's said at almost every checkpoint: "I don't plan anything. I go down the trail and ask 'What should I do?' That's how I make my plan."

Petit will pull into first place once he leaves Anvik, considering he's the only one of the three who has taken the mandatory eight-hour rest. 

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