Alaskan claims victory in gruelling 1,000-mile sled dog race

Pete Kaiser has become the latest Alaska Native to win the gruelling Iditarod dog sled race.

He won the race for the first time, crossing the finish line in Nome after facing a challenge from defending champion Joar Ulsom, from Norway.

Crowds cheered and clapped as Mr Kaiser came off the Bering Sea ice and mushed down Nome’s main street to the finish line.

The 1,000-mile race began on March 3 north of Anchorage.

Nicolas Petit was forced to pull out of the sled dog race while in the lead (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

Mr Kaiser is from the south-west Alaska community of Bethel. Four other Alaska Native mushers have won the race.

He will receive 50,000 US dollars (€44,000) and a new pick-up truck for the victory.

Mr Kaiser threw his arms over his head and pumped his fists as he claimed victory in the race. His wife and children were on hand to greet him.

This year’s race was marked by the stunning collapse of Frenchman Nicolas Petit, who was seemingly headed for victory as late as Monday.

Mr Petit, a native of France living in Alaska, had a five-hour lead and was cruising until his dog team stopped running.

Mr Petit said one dog was picking on another during a rest break, and he yelled at the dog to knock it off. At that point, the entire team refused to run.

He had to withdraw, and the dog team had to be taken back to the previous checkpoint by snowmobile.

Fifty-two mushers began the race in Willow. Mr Petit was among 10 racers who withdrew during the race.

The race took mushers and their dog teams over two mountain ranges, along the frozen Yukon River and then across the treacherous, wind-swept Bering Sea coast to the finish line in Nome.

- Press Association

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