Big Lake musher Rohn Buser won the first major distance race of the season Sunday, holding off Norway's Joar Leifseth Ulsom to win the Knik 200 Joe Redington Sr. Memorial race.
Buser reached the finish line at Knik Lake at 11:52 a.m., 43 minutes ahead of Leifseth Ulsom.
Ellen Donoghue was less than three minutes behind the Norwegian in third place, and defending champion Jake Berkowitz was six minutes behind Donoghue.
A strong field of 40 mushers started the race Saturday morning at Knik Lake. They raced and out-and-back course to Yentna, with Buser leading from wire to wire.
Buser, the son of four-time Iditarod champion Martin Buser, was the first musher to leave the starting line. He was the first and fastest musher to the Eagle Quest checkpoint and the first and fastest to Yentna, where teams took a mandatory six-hour layover.
Leifseth Ulsom made a move on the return trip, clocking the fastest time from Yentna to Eagle Quest and from Eagle Quest to the finish line. Buser had the third-fastest time from Yentna to Eagle Quest and the second fastest from Eagle Quest to the finish.
Buser posted a total run time of 17 hours, 32 minutes, 40 seconds. Leifseth Ulsom clocked 18:15:26, Donoghue 18:18:03 and Berkowitz 18:19:29.
In the 100-mile companion race, four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King recorded a dominating victory.
King finished at 5:09 a.m. Sunday, 2.5 hours ahead of second-place Jayne Hempstead.
Finishers as of 6 p.m. Sunday
1) Rohn Buser 17 hours, 32 minute, 40 seconds; 2) Joar Leifseth Ulsom 18:15:26; 3) Ellen Donoghue 18:18:03; 4) Jake Berkowitz 18:19:29; 5) Ray Redington 18:44:20; 6) Ken Anderson 18:48:48; 7) Nicolas Petit 18:49:11; 8) Hugh Neff 18:49:25; 9) Paul Gebhardt 18:54:21; 10) Alex Buetow 19:01:19; 11) Benjamin Harper 19:05:27; 12) Travis Beals 19:10:20; 13) Kelly Maixner 19:29:00; 14) Scott Jansson 19:33:43; 15) Robert Redington 20:08:08; 16) Charley Bejna 21:08:00; 17) Nicole Faille 21:11:5.
1) Jeff King 10:29; 2) Jayne Hempstead 13:08; 3) Jane Adkins 13:13; 4) Tamara Rose 13:38; 5) Michael Moerlein 13:34; 6) Steve Watkins 13:46; 7) Anja Radano 14:05; 8) Mary Helwig 14:28; 9) Dean Osmar 19:29; 10) Mydzung Osmar 19:29.
Anchorage Daily News