ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) 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.
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Veteran musher Brent Sass was disqualified late Tuesday for carrying a two-way communication device.
Rule 35 prohibits cellphones and other two-way communication devices, said race director Mark Nordman. Sass, of Eureka, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1C5RZPT) that he had an iPod Touch with wireless Internet capability.
Sass won last month’s 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
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.