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.
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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.
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