Alaska musher first to checkpoint 77 miles from finish

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska musher is leading the world’s most famous sled dog race just miles from the finish.

Pete Kaiser, from Bethel, Alaska, was the first musher to arrive at the checkpoint Tuesday in White Mountain.

All mushers must take a mandatory eight-hour break at White Mountain before making the final 77-mile (124-kilometer) push to Nome in the 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) race.

Kaiser and defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway are locked in a battle for the lead. Ulsom arrived in White Mountain 41 minutes after Kaiser.

Frenchman Nicolas Petit lost the lead and the race when his dog team quit running Monday . Petit later withdrew from the Iditarod and his dogs were transported off the trail by snowmobiles.

The winner is anticipated in Nome sometime early Wednesday morning.

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