OPHIR, Alaska -- Montana musher Jessie Royer was in ninth place Thursday afternoon — and fifth among mushers who have taken their 24-hour layover — after sledding into the Ophir checkpoint in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The product of Ennis left Ophir at 7:05 a.m. (MST) after a 14-minute stop. Royer was within three hours of four other mushers who had taken their layover, including former champion Mitch Seavey. 

Royer still had 14 dogs.

"Still warm out, dogs moving a bit slow," Royer texted 406mtsports.com. "Trail is better than I thought so that is good."

Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway continued to lead. He and Lars Monsen, another Norwegian, were the first two to arrive at the Iditarod checkpoint  near the midpoint of the race Thursday.

"Sure is beautiful country," Royer texted. "Traveling with a fun group of mushers."

Royer grew up in Ennis and has lived outside of White Sulphur Springs, Philipsburg and Darby.

Great Falls resident Bret Bruggeman, a rookie, was in 40th place and taking his 24-hour layover in Takotna.