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French Iditarod musher first to reach the Bering Sea coast

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Nicolas Petit is the first Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher to reach Alaska's Bering Sea coast. The Frenchman pulled into the checkpoint at Unalakleet (YUN'-uh-lah-kleet) Sunday. He left the previous checkpoint with about a two-hour lead on defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway and Alaskans Jessie Royer and Pete Kaiser.

Petit wins $1,500 in gold nuggets for being first to the wind-whipped coast. After Unalakleet, mushers will work their way north up to the coast, eventually reaching the finish line in Nome after a thousand-mile (1,600-kilometer) trek across Alaska's wilderness.

Cindy Abbott became the fourth musher to leave the race, citing personal health reasons and worries about taking care of her team. The Nebraska native and former Cal State-Fullerton professor who has climbed Mount Everest scratched late Saturday.

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