ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Pete Kaiser won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Wednesday, throwing his arms over his head and pumping his fists as he became the latest Alaska Native to claim victory in the iconic competition.

Kaiser, 31, crossed the finish line in Nome after beating back a challenge from the defending champion, Norwegian musher Joar Ulsom.

Ulsom was about 40 minutes behind Kaiser and made up ground in the final 77 miles to Nome but couldn’t overtake him. Ulsom placed second, coming across the finish line before Kaiser could get his picture taken on the winner’s podium.

Kaiser’s winning time was 9 days, 12 hours, 39 minutes and six seconds.

Ulsom finished the 1,000-mile race 12 minutes after Kaiser.

Kaiser greeted Ulsom under the finish line and shook his friend’s hand.

It’s the first Iditarod victory for Kaiser in his 10th attempt. He said he was not sure what made everything come together this year for him.

“Just years of knowledge gained and trying to put it all together to have a better race, better dog team this year, every little detail coming into play,” he said in a post-victory interview televised statewide from the finish line, adding that a little luck did not hurt either.

— The Associated Press

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