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Gold for first Quest musher to Dawson

Misha Pedersen and her dog team make their way up the frozen Yukon River after leaving the Circle City checkpoint Feb. 7, 2012, during the 2012 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Mushers are traveling 1,000 miles between Fairbanks and Whitehorse, Yukon. SAM HARREL / Fairbanks Daily News-Miner via Associated Press

The lead mushers in the Yukon Quest were expected to reach Dawson City sometime late Wednesday night or early this morning, where four ounces of gold await the first to arrive at the halfway point of the 1,000- mile sled-dog race from Fairbanks to Whitehorse, Yukon. Lance Mackey, a four-time Quest champion and four-time Iditarod champion, was the first to leave Eagle on Tuesday, but he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner he wouldn't jeopardize winning the race for a chance to win the gold.

"I love gold, but I would rather have the big chunk of gold at the end for winning the race," he said.

The trip from Eagle to Dawson City is 147 miles, and once mushers reach Dawson there is a mandatory 36-hour rest, before traveling 100 miles to Scroggy Creek.

Mackey's closest pursuers out of Eagle were Hugh Neff and Allen Moore. Neff left Eagle two minutes after Mackey and Allen departed 10 minutes after Mackey.

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Anchorage Daily News /