Three-time champion Seavey in lead halfway through Alaska's Iditarod

Wed Mar 9, 2016 10:42pm EST
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By Steve Quinn

JUNEAU, Alaska (Reuters) - Three-time Iditarod sled-dog racing champion Dallas Seavey became the first to reach the halfway point of the near 1,000-mile race on Wednesday.

Seavey, winner in three of the last four years and looking for his third successive title, pulled in as the leader into the old mining town of Cripple, considered by race organizers to be the official midway checkpoint.

"He is working really hard out there," said Mitch Seavey, the father of Dallas and winner in 2004 and 2013. "Dallas is sick and he is not his usual happy self, instead he has this grim determination. He is dangerous."

Noah Burmeister, racing for the first time since 2008, has been challenging perennial favorites and trailed Dallas Seavey by 20 miles heading into Cripple.

Former champions Robert Sorlie, John Baker, Lance Mackey and Jeff King were among six others trailing Seavey.

The race commemorates a 1925 rescue mission that carried diphtheria serum by sled-dog relay to the coastal community of Nome, which is also Burmeister's hometown

Some 85 mushers and their dogs set off on Sunday from the town of Willow, about a 90-mile drive from Anchorage, on a journey northwest across the Alaskan tundra that the fastest team will likely complete in under 10 days.

Only four have withdrawn from the race. While most of competitors are from Alaska, this year's race drew entrants from as far away as Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.   Continued...

Dallas Seavey and team leave the start chute at the restart of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, Alaska March 6, 2016. REUTERS/Nathaniel Wilder