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Veteran musher Aliy Zirkle takes lead in Alaska’s Iditarod

Iditarod veteran Aliy Zirkle runs down her team down Fourth Ave. during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Saturday, March 2, 2019 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Veteran musher Aliy Zirkle is leading in Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. She is seeking to become the first woman to win in nearly three decades.

Zirkle is a three-time second-place finisher in the 1,000-mile race.

She was first to leave the Ophir checkpoint Wednesday morning, 432 miles into the race.

Earlier Wednesday, Frenchman Nicolas Petit retook the lead after arriving first at Ophir when defending champion and front-runner Joar Ulsom stopped for a 24-hour mandatory rest at Takotna. Participants also must take two eight-hour rests.

The race began Sunday north of Anchorage. The winner is expected in Nome on Alaska’s western coast next week.

The late Susan Butcher was the most recent female Iditarod champion. She won the race four times between 1986 and 1990.

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