ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) A young musher who recently won an all-river-ice sled dog race in Alaska has grabbed an early lead in the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Pete Kaiser of Bethel was the first to leave the Manley Hot Springs checkpoint, 161 miles into the race.
He departed at 7:58 a.m. Tuesday, followed 40 minutes later by 2004 Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey. Musher Jessie Royer of Darby, Montana, pulled out of the checkpoint 17 minutes after Seavey.
Veteran musher Brent Sass was disqualified late Tuesday for carrying a two-way communication device.
Rule 35 prohibits cellphones and other two-way communication devices, said race director Mark Nordman. Sass, of Eureka, told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/1C5RZPT) that he had an iPod Touch with wireless Internet capability.
Sass won last month's 1,000-mile Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race.
A field of 78 mushers began the trek Monday from Fairbanks to the old gold-rush town of Nome.
The race usually kicks off 225 miles south in Willow, but a lack of snow led organizers to move the start farther north.
The route change adds about 600 miles of river ice, but it eliminates a mountain range and treacherous gorge.