Rookie musher Jon Little took the lead of the 22nd annual Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race on Tuesday.
Little, of Kasilof, was the first musher to leave Pelly Crossing, Yukon Territory, a village along the North Klondike Highway and the race's third checkpoint. He left Pelly Crossing at 4:47 p.m. Yukon time Tuesday, followed by fellow Quest rookie Lance Mackey, also of Kasilof, at 5:22 p.m.
Mackey and Little are veterans of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome, but are making their first attempts at the Quest, a 1,026-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks that started Sunday.
Quest veteran Hugh Neff of Skagway was the third musher to leave Pelly Crossing on Tuesday, hitting the trail right behind Mackey at 5:23 p.m. David Dalton (5:37 p.m.) and early leader Sam Perrino (5:40 p.m.) were the next out of the checkpoint.
Gerry Willomitzer and William Kleedehn - the first mushers to reach Pelly Crossing - were sixth and seventh out of the checkpoint on Tuesday evening. As of 11:30 p.m. Yukon time (10:30 p.m. Alaska time) Tuesday, five more mushers were reported out of Pelly Crossing - for a total of 12 - while seven remained at that checkpoint. One musher was en route between Carmacks - the race's second checkpoint - and Pelly Crossing, and the last musher was still in Carmacks.
For race updates, look on the Web at http://www.yukonquest.com.
From Pelly Crossing, it is 203 miles to the next official checkpoint at Dawson City, where mushers are required to take a 36-hour layover.