FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Defending champion Ellie Claus will lead a field of 10 mushers when the third annual Junior Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race gets under way Saturday.
Claus, who lives in Chitina, heads up a field that includes mushers age 18 and under from throughout Alaska and one from the Yukon Territory.
This year's field includes seven girls and three boys. The field has wide a geographic base with participants from the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, Fort Yukon, Delta Junction, Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
After mushers leave the starting line in downtown Fairbanks Saturday morning, they will follow a trail to the Chena Lakes Recreation Area and then on to the midway rest stop at Twin Bears Campground. There will be a 12-hour layover at Twin Bears and then the mushers will return to Fairbanks along the same trail.
Claus, who won last year's race in 12 hours, 9 minutes and 15 seconds, is one of five veterans returning from last year's field.
Other returning racers include Adam and Joshua Beebe of Delta Junction and Kathleen and Michelle Blevins of Fairbanks.
There are five rookies in the field.
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