Tuesday, March 11
Brooks overtakes Norwegian Robert Sorlie

Associated Press

KOYUK, Alaska -- Ramy Brooks took the lead Tuesday in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race after battling strong headwinds on the way to this coastal town.

With the finish line just 170 miles away in Nome, Brooks made his move. He overtook Norwegian Robert Sorlie, the leader for most of the 1,100-mile race.

Brooks, second last year, passed Sorlie by spending just a few minutes in the checkpoint after making nearly a seven-hour run from the previous checkpoint at Shaktoolik.

Sorlie arrived at the Koyuk checkpoint at 2:10 p.m., about two hours before Brooks, but decided to rest his team for a while.

"It's a very strong wind so you cannot stand on your sled," Sorlie said. "I must sit all the time."

Three-time Iditarod champion Jeff King was third, followed by four-time winner and defending champion Martin Buser.

Then came John Baker, Ken Anderson, Ed Iten, Sonny Lindner, Linwood Fiedler and five-time Iditarod winner Rick Swenson.

Sorlie said he had to stop along the 48-mile run from Shaktoolik to rotate his team and give his tired lead dogs a rest. Looking out at the wind-scrubbed coast, Sorlie asked if anyone knew how far out Brooks was.

The Norwegian had a lead of nearly three hours when he left Shaktoolik at 6:33 a.m. Brooks left the village at 9:22, followed by King at 11:15.

While Sorlie and his dogs rested, Brooks arrived at Koyuk with eight dogs at 4:13 p.m. He stopped only to gather hay for his dogs to rest along the trail.

Fiedler finished second in 2001 and scratched last year. Earlier this week, he said he has struggled to keep up again this year and would be happy to finish among the top 15.

"I really don't care anymore," he said Tuesday. "It looks like I'm going to finish up at the front, but if someone passes me by, I won't throw anything at them."

Race Marshal Mark Nordman expects the winner to cross the finish line before dawn Thursday.

Thirteen mushers have scratched, leaving 51 in the race. Perry Solomonson scratched Tuesday in Eagle Island.

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