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ELIM, Alaska (AP) _ Martin Buser maintained his record-breaking pace and held the lead Monday morning in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The Big Lake musher, going for his fourth Iditarod win, was the first to pull into Elim at 8:04 a.m.

Race officials said Buser was running three hours ahead of the record pace set in 2000 by Montana musher Doug Swingley, who won the race in nine days and 58 minutes.

Buser also was far ahead of runner-up Ramy Brooks of Healy. Buser left Koyuk _ the previous checkpoint _ at 2:30 a.m. with 10 dogs, more than three hours ahead of Brooks, who pulled out of Koyuk at 5:37 a.m. with nine dogs.

John Baker of Kotzebue was running third. He left Koyuk at 6:55 a.m. with 10 dogs. DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow held a solid fourth place, pulling out of Koyuk at 9:24 a.m. But she was down to seven dogs.

Elim is 123 miles from the Nome finish. The winning musher is expected to finish sometime Tuesday, collecting more than $60,000.

Six of the 64 mushers who started the race had scratched by Monday morning. The rest were on the trail, stretched out from Buser to rookie Rick Horstman, who was out of Cripple, 503 miles from Nome.

Swingley, the defending champion was in Ruby in 43rd place.