ANGEL CREEK -- As musher Tim Osmar of Ninilchik held onto his lead in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race, another top musher dropped out.
Osmar reached the Angel Creek checkpoint at 9:06 a.m. today where the teams will take a mandatory eight-hour layover.
He had left Mile 101 at about 3 a.m. -- one hour ahead of Andrew Lesh of Fairbanks. William Kleedehn of Carcross, Yukon Territory was in the number three spot, leaving Mile 101 at 4:21 a.m.
David Sawatzky of Healy dropped out of the race Wednesday night. He had left Central at 8 p.m. Wednesday night, but returned to the checkpoint a short time later and scratched. Race volunteers said Sawatzky was struggling with dogs in heat and decided not to attempt some of the race's most difficult summits with a distracted team.
That left 19 mushers still on the trail. Thirty-one mushers began the thousand-mile race from Whitehorse to Fairbanks Feb. 11.
After the mushers complete their layovers at Angel Creek they will have a 100-mile run to Fairbanks. Race officials expect the winner to cross the finish line early Friday morning.