RAINY PASS, Alaska - Four-time Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Martin Buser was the first musher out of the starting chute and has the early lead in the nearly 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome.
Buser pulled into the scenic Rainy Pass checkpoint at 5:38 a.m. Monday, spending just two minutes there before getting back on the trail.
He was followed by another musher with impressive Iditarod credentials -- four-time champion Lance Mackey. He pulled into the Finger Lake checkpoint on Sunday night, also spending just a couple minutes resting before heading out again.
Sixty-five mushers and their dog teams began the Iditarod on Sunday. The field this year includes six past Iditarod winners. The race is expected to wind up in Nome on Alaska's western coast in about eight or nine days.