Iditarod mushers start crossing first checkpoint of race
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A young musher who recently won an all-river-ice sled dog race in Alaska has grabbed an early lead in the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Pete Kaiser of Bethel was the first to leave the Manley Hot Springs checkpoint, 161 miles into the race.
He departed at 7:58 a.m. Tuesday, followed 40 minutes later by 2004 Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey. Musher Jessie Royer of Darby, Montana, pulled out of the checkpoint 17 minutes after Seavey.
A field of 78 mushers began the trek Monday from Fairbanks to the old gold-rush town of Nome.
The race usually kicks off 225 miles south in Willow, but a lack of snow led organizers to move the start farther north.
The route change adds about 600 miles of river ice, but it eliminates a mountain range and treacherous gorge.
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