Joar Ulsom of Norway won the world's most famous sled dog race Wednesday after a grueling dash across Alaska's rough terrain, but he earned tens of thousands of dollars less than last year's top musher at the struggling Iditarod. "It's pretty unreal I pulled it off," Ulsom told reporters at the finish line in Nome, Alaska. After nearly 1,000 miles, Ulsom and the eight dogs on his team came off the Bering Sea ice onto Nome's main street. He slapped hands with fans who lined the streets and went under the finish line at 3am local time Wednesday. "It's out of this world," he said before hugging each of his dogs, reports the AP. Ulsom's victory generated heavy media attention in Norway, which is still basking in the glory of winning the most medals at Pyeongchang.
The 31-year-old, who took the lead Monday when Nicolas Petit got off course in a blizzard, became the third person born outside the US to claim the title. Ulsom said he had no idea he had taken the lead when Petit got off course. He saw a sled track ahead of him, and figured he would find someone resting at the checkpoint. It was a pleasant surprise when he found out he was the first musher to arrive, and figured he had "a good shot at taking it home then." Ulsom picks up about $50,000, a drop from the 2017 winner's earnings of more than $71,000. The race, which began March 4, has been suffering financially and lost Wells Fargo as a major sponsor over the last year. Organizers have blamed animal rights activists for putting pressure on sponsors.