Defending Iditarod champ Jeff King seizes race lead

Posted: Sunday, March 11, 2007

EAGLE ISLAND - Iditarod mushers drove their teams into a brutally cold wind Saturday on the Yukon River before finding shelter in this checkpoint of a few tents along a frozen slough 421 miles from the finish at Nome.

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For four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake, who was leading the race, his rest was likely cut short when defending champion and four-time winner Jeff King of Denali Park pulled the snow brake on his sled and left the Eagle Island checkpoint after resting his team just five hours after a more than nine-hour run.

Buser left five minutes later, after resting his team 6 1/2 hours.

"Anybody who tries to make a move on this stretch of trail right now is asking for disaster," said Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, who has held the lead in the 1,100-mile race but did not try to catch Buser and King. "It just takes the morale right out of them," he said, referring to the dogs.

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