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BC-US--Iditarod, US

March 7, 2019

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A perennial fan favorite in search of her first win in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is in the lead.

Aliy (AL’-ee) Zirkle was the first musher to reach the halfway point of this year’s race, arriving early Thursday at the checkpoint in the ghost town of Iditarod.

She picks up some swag for being first to Iditarod but will have to decide between $3,000 in gold nuggets or a top-end cellphone with free service for a year.

Zirkle has finished second three times in the thousand-mile (1,600-kilometer) race.

In second place is Martin Buser (BOOZ’-er), who is seeking a fifth title. After his last win in 2002, the native of Switzerland became a naturalized American citizen under the finish line in Nome.

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