FAIRBANKS—Nome musher Aaron Burmeister was the first to the Norton Sound coast in Unalakleet on his way home in the 2015 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday.
Burmeister reached Unalakleet at about 3:50 p.m. Sunday and rested for nearly five hours. Meantime, last year’s champ, Dallas Seavey, passed Burmeister, staying only five minutes in the coastal checkpoint, to lead the race.
By reaching Unalakleet first, Burmeister claimed the Gold Coast Award and $3,500 in gold nuggets. He had previously won a trophy and $3,000 in gold by reaching the race’s halfway point, Huslia, on Thursday.
After frigid temperatures in the Interior, the weather had changed from 20 below in Koyukuk to about 0 degrees and 30 mph wind.
“I felt right at home when the wind started blowing this morning,” Burmeister said Sunday in Unalakleet, according to Iditarod.com. “So it’s good to be here. It’s that much closer to being home, and I feel very at home being in Unalakleet, so I’m very excited to be here right now.”
Burmeister took off a little after 8:30 p.m. trailing Seavey, who was marching toward Shaktoolik.
Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle had beaten Seavey into Unalakleet and was still resting there after Burmeister left late Sunday. Denali’s Jeff King came in about two hours later and was also there late Sunday.
Two mushers scratched Sunday. Phillip Walters and Ellen Halverson both called it quits in Galena for the best interest of their dogs.
Staff writer Casey Grove is the News-Miner’s Anchorage reporter and is covering the Iditarod this year. Follow him on Twitter: @kcgrove.