ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the Iditarod (all times local):
The overall purse for the world's most famous sled dog race is down a quarter-million dollars from last year.
The decrease has been blamed on a recession in Alaska and pressure on sponsors by animal rights groups.
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officials say this year's purse is $500,000 and will be split among all the racers according to their finish.
Race spokesman Chas St. George says the winner will receive about $50,000, far less than the $71,000 Mitch Seavey received after winning last year's race.
The Iditarod recently lost Wells Fargo bank as a major corporate sponsor amid allegations from animal rights groups involving the mistreatment of race dogs.
If you're at the front of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, chances are you're speaking Norwegian.
Mushers from Norway are in the top two spots Thursday as mushers and their dog teams make their way to the finish line in Nome. The winner is expected early next week.
Joar Ulsom continues to be the race leader. Late Wednesday, he pocketed $3,000 in gold nuggets for being the first musher to reach the halfway point when he pulled into the ghost town of Iditarod, Alaska.
Norwegian Lars Monsen is in second place, followed by three Alaskans. In third is Larry Daugherty, a radiation oncologist who summited Mount Everest after running last year's Iditarod. Rounding out the top five are four-time champion Jeff King and the defending champion, Mitch Seavey.