Norwegian musher and Iditarod Trail Sled-Dog Race champion Robert Sorlie drives his dog team up a hill about 30 miles outside Unalakleet, Alaska, Sunday, March 13, 2005. (Al Grillo/AP Wide World)
For the second time in three years, Norway's Robert Sorlie delivered a gutsy performance to win sled-dog racing's toughest contestthe Iditarod. The 47-year-old firefighter crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska, at 8:39 a.m. local time Wednesday morning.
"It feels good to be here," he declared, after passing under the arch at the finish line. "I'm ready for breakfast."
Frosty temperatures, rugged terrain, and exhaustion couldn't break the veteran musher, who completed the race in 9 days, 18 hours, 39 minutes, and 31 seconds. Runner-up Ed Iten finished 34 minutes later, and defending champ Mitch Seavey finished third.
Sorlie grabbed his first lead at the 365-mile mark, but fell into second place halfway through the race. With 500 miles to go, he regained the lead for good.
Iditarod officials rewarded Sorlie with a generous prize of $72,066 and a new truck. But even more thrilling for the winner was the historic nature of his ride. By winning this year's race, Sorlie joins an elite group of mushers, becoming only the sixth person to win the Iditarod more than once.
After winning several major long-distance races in Europe, Sorlie made his Iditarod debut in 2002, finishing in ninth place. A year later, he returned to take on the Alaskan wilderness once again, and won.
Iditarod: A Quick History
Since 1973, the world's top mushers have gathered in Alaska to tackle the Iditarod's 1,150-mile trail, which stretches from Anchorage to Nome.
The race commemorates a group of courageous mushers and dogs. In 1925, they traveled across part of the Idit trail to deliver serum, or a liquid used to prevent or cure a disease, to save sick children in Nome.