Father, son take the lead in Iditarod race across Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A father and son held the lead early Sunday in Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

Mitch Seavey, a two-time Iditarod champion, was the first musher to leave the checkpoint in the village of Kaltag. His son, current Iditarod champ Dallas Seavey, was close behind.

Mitch Seavey departed Kaltag at 4:40 a.m., and Dallas Seavey left five minutes later. Each arrived with 13 dogs and left with 12.

Dallas Seavey has won four of the past five races. According to the Iditarod's website, he is a third generation musher who grew up helping his dad train his racing teams.

The third competitor out of Kaltag was veteran musher Wade Marrs of Alaska, who left at 5:28 a.m.

Next was Nicolas Petit, a native of France who lives just south of Anchorage. Petit departed at 6:35 a.m.

Rounding out the top five was Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway, who left Kaltag at 6:50 a.m.

The Iditarod crosses nearly 1,000 miles of grueling Alaska wilderness. This year's race started March 6 in Fairbanks.

The winner is expected early this week in the town of Nome, along Alaska's frozen Bering Sea coast.

The Kaltag checkpoint offers a brief respite before the trail heads overland to the wind-whipped coast of Norton Sound, the Iditarod website says.

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