The race for the Iditarod's red lantern was closer than the race for the Iditarod championship, and that's saying something.
Willow's Lisbet Norris edged Whitehorse's Marcelle Fressineau by 35 seconds Saturday in Nome, making Fressineau the last-place musher in the 42nd edition of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The championship was decided early Tuesday, when Willow's Dallas Seavey beat Two Rivers' Aliy Zirkle by less than three minutes.
Fressineau, 59, is a Swiss-born musher who races primarily in Canada, and her last-place finish was something a surprise. Elliot Anderson, a 22-year-old rookie from Big Lake, had held down the Red Lantern position for a couple of days, but he scratched from the race early Saturday morning.
His departure left three mushers on the trail -- Fressineau, Norris and Kasilof's Monica Zappa. All women, all rookies.
Norris, 26, and Zappa, 30, reached Safety at roughly the same time Saturday, at 12:33 p.m. They were still there when Fressineau arrived at 3:12 p.m.
Fressineau left Safety first, after a stay of only 13 minutes, only to get passed by both mushers in the final 22-mile run to Nome.
Zappa reached Nome at 7:08 p.m. with 14 dogs. Norris got there at 7:41 with eight dogs and Fressineau was right behind with nine dogs.
Anderson's race ended early Saturday. He made it past Golovin but eventually turned around and scratched at that checkpoint, race officials said.
At Elim, about 130 miles from the finish line of the 1,000-mile race, Anderson was about 7.5 hours behind anyone else. He spent six hours there checkpoint before returning to the trail with a team of 15 yearlings from Martin Buser's kennel.
Fressineau placed 49th. A field of 69 started the race March 2 in Willow, and 20 team either scratched or were withdrawn.
Anchorage Daily News