Veteran musher Brent Sass of Eureka pulled away from the field in the final stretch to win the Gin Gin 200 sled dog race by nearly three hours over Paul Gebhart of Kasilof.
Deep, blowing snow and temperatures that plummeted to minus-30 at night slowed the 20 mushers who started. Four racers withdrew before the race began and nine others scratched during the 200-mile event that began at Meier's Lake Roadhouse on the Richardson Highway and ended in Paxson.
Kristy Berington of Kasilof captured the women's division by more than five hours over Emily Theim. Stephanie Ehlenfeldt was third. Berington finished 29th in last year's Iditarod, jumping 10 spots from her rookie finish the previous year.
Sass crossed the finish line at 11:45 p.m. Thursday night. Gebhardt, a two-time Iditarod runner-up, pulled in at 3:45 a.m. Friday, and fellow Iditarod veteran Hugh Neff was third, some 21 minutes behind Gebhardt.
Sass, 32, has competed in the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race five times, with a fourth-place finish last year his best. Both Sass and Berington are aiming to complete a Yukon Quest-Iditarod double this year.
The Gin Gin features separate men's and women's divisions and a mass start on Meier's Lake.