Iditarod leaders near Nome

March 17, 2009 at 8:28 PM
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska, March 17 (UPI) -- Lance Mackey appeared to be headed for a third Iditarod win Tuesday as the leaders in the Alaska sled dog race inched towards Nome in difficult weather.

Many mushers farther back in the pack waited out the weather, the Alaska Daily News reported. Rick Swenson, a five-time Iditarod champion who lost to Mackey's father in 1978, had been in Unalakleet for almost a day, avoiding strong headwinds and extreme low temperatures.

Three novice mushers scratched. One, Dr. Lou Packer of Wasilla, was airlifted off the trail north of Iditarod after rescuers found him with two dogs on his team dead.

Mackey is going for this third win in the Iditarod. He is a four-time Yukon Quest champion and the only man to win both the Quest and Iditarod in the same year, which he did in 2007 and 2008.

He left Elim with his team just before 11 a.m. local time Tuesday. He was expected to get to White Mountain in late afternoon or early evening and would then be required to rest for 8 hours before beginning the push over the final 75 miles to Nome.

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