FAIRBANKS - Front runners in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race were making their way toward Eagle Summit Sunday evening.
Eagle Summit, at 3,650 feet, marks the steepest climb in the 1,000 mile race between Fairbanks and Whitehorse.
Dieter Dolif of Trebel, Germany took the lead Sunday after spending just five minutes at the dog drop at Mile 101 of the Steese Highway before heading back out on the trail at 1:35 p.m. The unofficial checkpoint is 144 miles into the race.
Juneau's Deborah Bicknell arrived in Central at 7:06 this morning and is jostling with two other mushers for 27th place. Bicknell was the last musher out of the starting gate.
Weather was described as pleasant, with sunny skies and temperatures in the single digits and teens above zero. Trail conditions were good.
``A lot of effort went into the grooming,'' said Alex Olesen at race headquarters in Fairbanks. ``Everyone that's checked out the trails has called them really fast.''
By Sunday evening, 17 teams had passed through Mile 101. Peter Butteri of Tok, who was first into Mile 101, followed Dolif back onto the trail at 1:52 p.m.
Jack Berry of Homer was in third place, leaving three minutes behind Butteri. Thomas Tetz ot Tagish, Yukon hit the trail at 2 p.m.
Rounding out the top five was Rusty Hagan of North Pole, who left Mile 101 at 2:52 p.m.
The next checkpoint is at Central, 33 miles down the trail.
Twenty-nine mushers remain in the race.