Rodney Whaley, a veteran of 24 years in the Tennessee National Guard, is one of only 102 people in the world to qualify for the 1,159-mile race.
Defending champion Lance Mackey left Kaltag with three hours of rest and a two-hour lead over Sebastian Schnuelle in the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Mackey, trying for a third straight title, reached Kaltag at
12:20 a.m. Sunday. He left just before 4 a.m. with 15 dogs in
Kaltag is a Yukon River village of 184 about 350 miles from the
finish line in Nome.
Schnuelle, winner of last month's 1,000-mile Yukon Quest
International Sled Dog Race, reached Kaltag at 5:30 a.m. He rested
just a half hour and left at 6 a.m., also with 15 dogs.
Three other mushers, Jeff King, Mitch Seavey and Hugh Neff, left
Kaltag within 10 minutes of each other just after 9 a.m.
From Kaltag, mushers head 90 miles to Unalakleet on the coast of