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Rookie musher Sam Perrino has claimed the early lead of the 2005 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
Perrino, 28, of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, was the first musher to reach the Carmacks, Yukon Territory, checkpoint on Monday. He arrived in Carmacks - the race's second checkpoint - at 3:25 p.m. Yukon time, and indicated to race officials that he would take an 8-hour rest stop. No other mushers were reported into Carmacks as of 6 p.m. Alaska time Monday.
Perrino was also the first musher into Braeburn Lodge - the race's first checkpoint - at 11:11 p.m. Yukon time Sunday, and he left at 5:10 a.m. Monday.
"The first 30 miles were punchy on the river," Perrino said of the first stretch of trail out of Whitehorse along the Yukon and Takhini rivers, where he stopped occasionally to feed his dogs.
While Perrino is a Yukon Quest rookie, he completed the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race last year. Perrino finished 36th in that race, which goes from Anchorage to Nome.
The Yukon Quest is a 1,026-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks started at 1 p.m. Sunday. It is 109 miles from Whitehorse to Braeburn, and 79 miles from Braeburn to Carmacks. After Carmacks, the next checkpoint is 75 miles away at Pelly Crossing.
Skagway musher Hugh Neff was the second racer to leave Braeburn, at 6:38 a.m. Monday, followed one minute later by Lance Mackey of Kasilof. All but one of the race's 21 mushers were reported out of Braeburn by late Monday morning.
For race updates, visit the Yukon Quest Web site at http://www.yukonquest.com.
The Juneau Empire sports desk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.