Alaska, Norwegian mushers battled for Iditarod lead

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              FILE - In this March 7, 2015, file photo, musher Peter Kaiser, of Bethel, Alaska, leads his team past spectators during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in Anchorage, Alaska. There's a new leader in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race after the dogs on musher Nicolas Petit's team quit on him. Alaska musher Pete Kaiser passed Petit and was the first musher to reach the checkpoint in Koyuk Monday, March 11, 2019. (AP Photo/Rachel D'Oro, File)
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska musher leads the world’s most famous sled dog race in the push to the finish.

Pete Kaiser, from Bethel, Alaska, was the first musher to leave the checkpoint in White Mountain, at 4:05 p.m. Tuesday.

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

Kaiser and defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway are fighting for the lead. Ulsom arrived in White Mountain 41 minutes after Kaiser earlier Tuesday.

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

The winner is anticipated in Nome sometime early Wednesday morning.