The leader of the 19th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race neared the halfway point Wednesday after a bold move that left behind other mushers who had opted to take their mandatory 24-hour rest stops.

Terry Adkins of Sand Coulee, Mont., arrived at this tiny former placer mining town early Wednesday. Ophir, the 11th checkpoint, is 476 miles into the 1,163-mile race from Anchorage to Nome.By early Wednesday, Adkins still was the only musher who had left McGrath, 71 miles behind, where most racers decided to sleep, feed and rest their dog teams, and gear up for the big westward push to the Yukon River.

But Adkins, who had been the third to reach McGrath, eventually will have to take his own 24-hour layover. "This is a good hard trail. It's a trail that's a demolition derby for sleds and dogs," said Adkins, who led for much of the race's first four days.