Anchorage, Alaska (Reuters)Brent Sass, a 42-year-old former college Nordic skier, glided into Nome early on Tuesday morning to win Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in the 50th year that the grueling, 1,000-mile (1,610-km) test of endurance has been run.
Brent Sass: Nordic skier-turned-musher wins 50th running of Alaska's Iditarod race
A cheering crowd greeted Sass and his dog team when they reached the finish line on Nome's Front Street at 5:38 a.m. His elapsed time of eight days, 14 hours and 38:43 minutes was one of the fastest times in the Iditarod's 50-year history.
It was the first Iditarod victory for Sass, who lives in Eureka, a tiny settlement outside of Fairbanks.
Until now, his third-place finish in last year's Covid-19-altered race was his best Iditarod result. Even so, as three-time winner of the Yukon Quest International, a separate 1,000-mile sled dog race, Sass was considered a top contender from the start of this year's Iditarod.
His win seemed assured for days. He held a steady lead from the race's halfway point at Cripple, an abandoned mining settlement that he reached last Wednesday.
In the final stretch, he was consistently more than two hours ahead of his nearest rival, five-time champion Dallas Seavey. Seavey managed to make up some time in the last miles to Nome and finished a little more than an hour after Sass.
For his victory in the world's most famous sled-dog race, Sass will take a share of the Iditarod's total $500,000 prize purse. The exact amount of his prize is yet to be determined, but winners in the past 10 years have usually taken home at least $50,000, according to Iditarod records.