ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Big Lake musher Ramey Smyth won the Tustumena 200 Sled Dog Race Saturday evening, crossing the finish line just two minutes before two-time defending champion Jeff King.
Smyth and his team of 13 dogs finished the race in 26 hours and 50 minutes. A cheering crowd of well-wishers surrounded Smyth as he steered his dogs through the finish chute at 6:40 p.m.
His win surprised many race-watchers who expected King, a powerhouse triple-Iditarod champion, to win. King dominated the race until the last five or six miles when Smyth's team overpowered him.
''I couldn't switch gears fast enough,'' said King, 46.
Smyth was also a bit shocked by the close finish and his victory.
''I'm stunned,'' he said.
A last-minute snafu caused Smyth to miss his start time on Saturday forcing him to begin at the back of the pack. The delay was an obstacle, but not enough to scuttle Smyth's team.
''We gave it everything we had,'' Smyth said.
For his first-place finish, Smyth won $10,000.
Seward musher Mitch Seavey took third place, followed by Ray Redington, Jr. of Two Rivers and Kasilof racer Lance Mackey.
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