- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - A shoulder injury forced a musher to drop out of the running Monday in the early stage of Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Jan Steves, 59, scratched at the checkpoint in Skwetna, on the second day of the nearly 1,000-mile race to Nome on the state’s wind-scoured western coast.

Musher Nicolas Petit grabbed the early lead, arriving first at the checkpoint in Rainy Pass, 787 miles from the finish line. But musher Hugh Neff, who won the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race last month, was the first to leave that checkpoint, departing at 11:33 a.m. Monday for the 35-mile run to the next checkpoint at Rohn.

Eighty-five teams took part in the Iditarod’s ceremonial start Saturday in Anchorage. The competitive portion of the race began Sunday in Willow, about 50 miles to the north.

Steves splits her time between Edmonds, Washington, and Willow. She told Anchorage television station KTUU her sled overturned on a mild stretch of the trail shortly after she left Willow, and she might have broken one or more ribs.

The station says Steves began the race Sunday, wearing the ashes of her 31-year-old son, Tyler, who died last June of a heart attack.

Mushers in the race include defending champion Dallas Seavey, who is seeking his fourth win.

The winner is expected to reach the finish line about nine days after the start of the race. Before reaching Nome, the teams travel over two mountain ranges, the Yukon River and the Bering Sea coast.

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