Frenchman widens lead in Iditarod race across Alaska

    ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A native of France is widening his lead in Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

    Nicolas Petit was the first musher to leave the checkpoint at Shaktoolik Sunday evening as he pads his lead.

    His two nearest competitors, Alaskan Pete Kaiser and defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway left Shaktoolik about 5 1/2 hours after Petit.

    Petit had a two-hour lead on those mushers after the previous checkpoint.

    Jessie Royer, the fourth-place musher, left Shaktoolik two hours after Kaiser and Ulsom.

    Shaktoolik is 777 miles (1,250 kilometers) into the thousand mile (1,600 kilometer) race.

    The winner is expected to come off the Bering Sea ice and mush down Nome's main street to the finish line sometime mid-week. The race started March 3 just north of Anchorage.

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