BRAEBURN, Yukon Territory -- William Kleedehn of Carcross, Yukon was leading the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on Monday, the first full day of competition in the 1,000 mile race.
Kleedehn left the Braeburn checkpoint, 100-miles into the race, at 5:46 a.m. Alaska Time. He was followed by two-time champion John Schandelmeier of Paxson Lake who left Braeburn about an hour behind Kleedehn. David Sawatzky of Healy was in third at 7:02 a.m.; Tim Osmar of Clam Gulch was fourth at 7:17 a.m. and Cim Smyth of Big Lake was fifth at 7:18 a.m.
Jack Berry of Homer, Hugh Neff of Fairbanks, Andrew Lesh of Fairbanks and Joran Freeman of Two Rivers followed the top teams.
By 4 p.m., all 31 teams entered in the race had arrived at the race's first checkpoint and continued on to Carmacks, 79 miles away on the Yukon River. The town of a few hundred people was named for George Carmacks who was one of the original discoverers of gold in 1896 and helped set of the Klondike gold rush.
Rookie Dario Daniels of Homer, who was in 24th place leaving Braeburn, said at this early point in the race he had other things on his mind than keeping up with the leaders.
"I'm doing what the team needs and that is more important than where we are in the general standings," Daniels told KTUU-TV. "This is a thousand mile race and if you want to go ahead and race right now, you really might be paying the price."
Another rookie, Sylvia Furtwaengler of Argenbehl, Germany, was well back in the race. She said she would need another day or two to form an opinion about what to expect down the trail.
"At the moment, it is OK. I think tomorrow it is different," she said.
Dieter Zirngibl of Tanana took time out at the back of the pack to enjoy the weather and warm up with a hot beverage.
"There is nothing to complain about. The weather is beautiful, warm, everything is nice," said Zirngibl, who received the Red Lantern award for finishing last during his rookie year in 1995.
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