NOME, Alaska (AP) _ Martin Buser cruised down Front Street behind a team of 10 dogs Tuesday to claim his fourth victory in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, completing the 1,100-mile Anchorage-to-Nome trek in a record time of under nine days.
With the temperature just 11 degrees, a crowd lined the street to welcome him to this Gold Rush town.
He arrived at 8:46 a.m., finishing the grueling race in eight days, 22 hours, 46 minutes. It was the first time the race has been completed in less than nine days.
Buser won $62,800 and a new pickup truck.
``It feels pretty good,'' Buser said as he neared the finish line, a small American flag waving from his sled. ``It's going to be exciting to hold that record for a while.''
Entering the finish chute, Buser was handed a huge American flag as the crowd cheered.
The Swiss-born Buser plans to become a U.S. citizen Wednesday in a ceremony under the burled arch that marks the Iditarod finish line. He said that was one of the things he was looking forward to as he made his way to Nome.
Buser, who lives in Big Lake, enjoyed near-perfect trail conditions and clear skies for most of the race. He traveled at the front of the pack for the first half of the race and had a decisive lead by the halfway point.
Buser's win this year came after he placed 24th last year, his worst finish in 15 years. Before the start of the race, Buser said his goal was to go ``from worst to first.''
He credited the turnaround to a renewed focus on training. Buser said he pared back on his schedule of public appearances and his involvement with civic organizations to spend more time with his dogs.
The old record was nine days, 58 minutes, set by four-time champion Doug Swingley of Lincoln, Mont., in 2000.