March 13, 2019

The Iditarod is coming home.

Alaskan musher Pete Kaiser won the annual sled dog race — which covers nearly 1,000 of frigid Alaskan terrain from Anchorage to Nome — when he crossed the finish line early on Wednesday morning, The Anchorage Daily News reported. Kaiser finished the race in nine days, 12 hours, 39 minutes, and six seconds, holding off the defending champion, Norway's Joar Ulsom in the process. Ulsom finished just 12 minutes after Kaiser, making the race the fifth closest in the Iditarod's history dating back to 1967.

Kaiser is the first musher of Yup'ik — an indigenous peoples from western Alaska and the Russian Far East — descent to win the race.

This year's race fielded the smallest group of mushers since 1989, as organizers said they had to regroup amid declining sponsorship, a dog doping scandal, and animal-rights protest, Reuters reported before the race began last Sunday. Protests also played a role during the race itself, just not from animal-rights activists: on Monday, then-leader Nicholas Petit's dogs decided they'd had enough and refused to continue the trail. It then became Kaiser's race to lose.

As a reward for his victory, Kaiser received a $50,000 check and a new truck. Tim O'Donnell

March 14, 2018

Norwegian musher Joar Leifseth Ulsom won the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Wednesday when he crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska, just after 3 a.m. local time, the Anchorage Daily News reports. It is Leifseth Ulsom's first time winning the nearly 1,000-mile race, although his time — 9 days, 13 hours, and one minute — is almost half an hour shorter than his previous slowest Iditarod run in 2013. He claimed the slowest winning time since 2009.

Leifseth Ulsom had been trailing fellow musher Nic Petit on Monday, before Petit lost his lead during a snowstorm about 777 miles into the race. By the time Leifseth Ulsom reached White Mountain, the second-to-last checkpoint in the race on Tuesday, he had a nearly three-hour lead on Petit, The Associated Press reports.

Leifseth Ulsom is the third Iditarod winner born outside the United States, and he breaks a winning streak by the Seavey family; Dallas Seavey and his dad, Mitch Seavey, had alternated winning every Iditarod since 2011. Dallas sat out the 2018 race in protest of a scandal stemming from his dogs testing positive for the banned opioid pain reliever Tramadol after last year's Iditarod. Jeva Lange

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