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KALTAG - Norwegian musher Robert Sørlie was on the move and ahead of the pack again early today, leaving the Kaltag checkpoint at 4:41 a.m.
Sørlie was first Iditarod musher into the Kaltag checkpoint, arriving at 10:34 p.m. Sunday. He won the gourmet meal served to the first musher to complete the Yukon River portion of the race.
Sørlie dined on a late-night feast that included Alaska king crab, balsamic chicken and lobster, and he collected $3,500 in cash before heading out for the 90-mile run to Unalakleet on the Bering Sea coast.
Ramy Brooks of Healy was in second place, reaching Kaltag about two hours after Sørlie and leaving one and a half hours after him, at 6:03 a.m. this morning. Three-time champion Jeff King was third into Kaltag, reaching the village at 3:32 a.m. King departed Kaltag at 7:50 a.m. today.
Defending champion Martin Buser was fourth into Kaltag, arriving at 7:42 a.m. Ken Anderson arrived at Kaltag at 9:54 a.m. today to move into fifth place, and John Baker was running sixth after reaching Kaltag at 10:22 a.m.
Seven more mushers were on the trail between Eagle Island and Kaltag late this morning.
Two more mushers have scratched, leaving 54 mushers still in the race to Nome.
Veteran musher Charlie Boulding of Manley scratched Sunday in Anvik. Boulding was down to just nine dogs. He told race officials that he felt it was in the best interest of his team that he not continue.
Keith Aili of Ray, Minn. scratched in Grayling. Aili said he didn't have enough training this year, due to the lack of snow in Minnesota.
Earlier Sunday, a small plane carrying two race volunteers made a crash landing into a snow berm in Galena, Alaska State Troopers said. A veterinarian suffered a cut nose, but there were no serious injuries, said Trooper Anne Sears.
Executive Iditarod Director Stan Hooley said the pilot, also a race volunteer, reported a power failure at takeoff.
"Fortunately, everyone is healthy and able to continue on their volunteer duties," Hooley said.
Leading mushers as of 11:30 a.m. today, with latest reported checkpoint and time:
1. Robert Sørlie, Kaltag 2, out at 4:41 a.m. today.
2. Ramy Brooks, Kaltag 2, out at 6:03 a.m. today.
3. Jeff King, Kaltag 2, out at 7:50 a.m. today.
4. Martin Buser, Kaltag 2, in at 7:42 a.m. today.