ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Latest on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (all times local):
Nic Petit had a healthy lead in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race until he lost the trail in a coastal storm Monday.
While Petit was trying to find trail markers in a blizzard on the Bering Sea ice, he was passed by Norwegian musher Joar Ulsom who beat Petit to the checkpoint in Koyuk by over an hour.
Now Petit, Ulsom and defending champion Mitch Seavey are essentially dead even with 170 miles to go before the finish line in Nome.
Petit, a native of France now living in Alaska, battled nearly whiteout conditions when trying to find the trail again. He described it to the Iditarod website as “lots and lots of snow,” before adding: “Be careful what you wish for, huh?”
All three mushers were resting their dogs in Koyuk, before taking off for the 50-mile jaunt to the next checkpoint in Elim. The winner should arrive in Nome by mid-week
The Iditarod reprimanded but did not fire the head of its drug testing program Monday after a musher said Dr. Morrie Craig threatened him.
The race’s board of directors said in a statement that Craig has been punished for his conversation with musher Wade Marrs shortly before the race started March 4.
Details of the reprimand weren’t disclosed because they characterize it as a personnel matter.
However, Craig is a contractor for the race and not an employee. Race spokesman Chas St. George didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking clarification and more information.
Marrs has said he believes he was bullied by Craig after the musher was outspoken over how officials handled the race’s first-ever dog doping incident in last year’s race.
Craig is also challenging his termination from Oregon State University over allegations of bullying and sexual harassment.
Norwegian Joar Ulsom is the new leader of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race.
He was the first musher Monday afternoon to arrive at the checkpoint in Koyuk.
Nic Petit had been the race leader, but Ulsom overtook him when crossing the Bering Sea ice between the Shaktoolik and Koyuk checkpoints.
Petit is now chasing Ulsom, as is the third place musher, defending champion Mitch Seavey.
Koyuk is about 170 miles (273 kilometers) from the finish line in Nome.
The Iditarod is shaping up to be a three-man race as mushers hug the frozen Bering Sea coast as they head for Nome.
Three mushers have left the checkpoint of Shaktoolik and are heading up the western coast to Koyuk, which is about 170 miles (274 kilometers) from the finish line.
In the lead is France native Nic Petit, who left Shaktoolik early Monday morning about 2 ½ hours ahead of defending champion Mitch Seavey.
Norwegian musher Joar Ulsom left Shaktoolik about an hour after Seavey.
The winner of the nearly thousand-mile (1,610-kilometer) race across Alaska is expected in Nome in the next few days.
Sixty-seven mushers started the race March 4 in Willow.
Since then, five have quit the race including Ryan Redington, who scratched Sunday night in Kaltag.
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