In temperatures that plunged to minus 10 overnight, Nicolas Petit of Girdwood held off defending champion Will Rhodes on Sunday to capture the Knik 200 Joe Redington Sr. Memorial Sled Dog Race.
Petit held the lead from the second checkpoint of Yentna all the way to the finish line of the 200-mile Iditarod qualifier.
Petit, 36, has finished five Iditarods, and his last three finishes have put him among the top 10 racers in the 1,000-mile run to Nome.
He finished the Knik 200 in 19 hours, 21 minutes to beat defending champion Will Rhodes by 36 minutes.
Another pair of Iditarod veterans, Ray Redington Jr. and Joar Leifseth Ulsom, followed in third and fourth places. Dave Turner was fifth.
Petit is preparing for his seventh Iditarod start, now just two months away. He's already racked up a collection of awards in that race, including the Leonhard Seppela Humanitarian award in 2015, the Most Improved Musher award in 2013 for his jump from 29th to sixth place in 12 months, and the Jerry Austin Rookie of the Year award in 2011.
In Petit's seventh-place Iditarod finish last year, he crossed the finish line in Nome with 14 dogs in harness, showing more speed than other top mushers at that juncture of the race. His team was the fastest in the race's final 22 miles from Safety to Nome.
In the companion Knik 100 race on Sunday, Mille Porsild topped runner-up Tracey Schaeffer by nearly two hours, winning in 14 hours, 50 minutes.
Full results can be found at knik200sleddograce.com/
Knik 200 Joe Redington Sr. Memorial Sled Dog Race
Top 12 finishers
1) Nicolas Petit, 19 hours, 21 minutes; 2) Will Rhodes, 19:57; 3) Ray Redington Jr., 20:52; 4) Joar Ulsom, 20:55; 5) Dave Turner, 21:08; 6) Micah Degerlund, 22:23; 7) Charley Bejna, 22:51; 8) Scott Janssen, 23:23; 9) Martin Reitan, 24:06; 10) Emily Maxwell, 24:08; 11) Rob Cooke, 24:14; 12) Dave Delcourt, 24:16.