WHITE MOUNTAIN, Alaska (AP) Norway's Robert Sorlie fought off a spirited challenge from musher Ramy Brooks, retaking the lead early Wednesday in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Sorlie was the first musher into the White Mountain checkpoint, where teams are required to take an eight-hour layover before the 99-mile run to Nome. Sorlie arrived in White Mountain at 7:45 a.m. Brooks arrived at 9:16 a.m.
Earlier Wednesday, the two were just two minutes apart. Sorlie was first into the Elim checkpoint, arriving at 1:05 a.m. Brooks arrived at 1:52 a.m. and left just one minute later, jumping into the lead. That sent Sorlie hurrying out onto the trail, two minutes later, chasing after Brooks.
The winner is expected to cross the finish line in Nome late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
Most of the other teams had given up the chase and were letting Sorlie and Brooks battle it out for first place. By midmorning Wednesday, three-time champion Jeff King was in third place. He left the Elim checkpoint at 9:03 a.m.
Ken Anderson of Fairbanks was in fourth place, leaving the Koyuk checkpoint at 4:47 a.m., while defending champion Martin Buser of Big Lake was in fifth place, leaving Koyuk at 5:14. In sixth place was John Baker of Kotzebue, who left Koyuk at 7:40.
Rounding out the top ten were Ramey Smyth of Big Lake, Linwood Fiedler of Willow and Ed Iten of Kotzebue. All remained in Koyuk at midmorning Wednesday.
One more musher has scratched from the race. Perry Solomonson of Whittier scratched Tuesday at Eagle Island, leaving 51 mushers in the race to Nome.
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