Boulding forges ahead to lead in the Iditarod

Posted: Monday, March 04, 2002

RAINY PASS (AP) -- Charlie Boulding of Manley forged ahead late Monday morning to take the lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Boulding, who drew the top starting position, was the first to reach Rainy Pass, beating front-runners Martin Buser of Big Lake and DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow to arrive at the checkpoint at 10:56 a.m. Four minutes later, Jonrowe pulled into Rainy Pass, which is 224 miles from Anchorage.

Jeff King of Denali Park arrived eight minutes later. King, a three-time Iditarod champion, finished third in last year's Iditarod. In January, King won the Kuskokwim 300, one of Alaska's premier mid-distances races, for an unprecedented sixth time.

John Baker of Kotzebue rolled in at 11:26 a.m. and 1976 Iditarod champion Jerry Riley of Nenana arrived at 11:56 a.m.

Early leader Linwood Fiedler of Willow arrived at Rainy Pass at 12:13 p.m., followed by Ramy Brooks of Healy at 12:15 p.m. and Jon Little of Kasilof at 12:25 p.m.

Buser, a three-time Iditarod champion, was in 12th place after grabbing a brief lead earlier Monday. He was the first to leave the previous checkpoint at Finger Lake 30 miles from Rainy Pass.

Norwegian musher Harald Tunheim was in 13th place -- despite a badly sprained ankle that forced him out of Saturday's ceremonial start while one of his handlers ran his team. Tunheim, who wrenched his ankle Thursday night at the pre-race banquet, left Finger Lake at 8:02 a.m.

Defending champion Doug Swingley of Lincoln, Mont., was in 37th place in the field of 64 mushers. Swingley, a four-time winner seeking his fourth consecutive championship, arrived at Finger Lake at 12:17 p.m.

Swingley was in no hurry, he told KNOM radio earlier.

''Patience has always been my greatest virtue,'' he said just before leaving the Skwentna checkpoint as the sun rose Monday.

Swingley said some drivers have tried to get a jump on him early in previous races.

''I say they've been trying to do that for a long time and it doesn't work,'' he said, laughing.

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