NOME, Alaska -- Thirteen minutes.
After mushing about 930 miles across the Alaska wilderness the last nine days, that's all that separated the first two teams in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Mitch Seavey was the first musher into the checkpoint at White Mountain, 77 miles from the finish line in Nome. He checked in at 5:11 a.m. Tuesday, and Aliy Zirkle, last year's runner-up, followed him at 5:24 a.m.
And now it's a waiting game.
All mushers have to take an eight-hour mandatory rest at White Mountain, and then it will be a mad dash for the burled arch finish line in downtown Nome. The winner is expected sometime late Tuesday evening.
"They're both great mushers, very talented, kind of that dog whisperer that I like to call some of those top mushers," said race spokeswoman Erin McLarnon.
But at this point, it's anybody's guess who will cross the finish line first.
"Mitch doesn't have a super solid lead. I mean, 13 minutes, anything can happen," she said.
It's likely Seavey, the 2004 champion and father of last year's winner, Dallas Seavey, and Zirkle won't be alone as they make the last run on the Bering Sea coast.
Four-time champion Jeff King is in third place, and checked into White Mountain at 6:52 a.m. He and Zirkle covered the last 46-mile section of trail, from Elim to White Mountain, a half hour faster than Mitch Seavey.