Four-time Iditarod Sled Dog Race winner Susan Butcher reached the Bering Sea coast first Monday night, ahead of a small pack of male mushers who chased her to the sea but couldn't catch her as the 1,163-mile marathon came to within 269 miles of the Nome finish line.

On the coast, 894 miles from the March 2 start in Anchorage, Butcher said the race "shifts one notch" into higher gear as teams race toward Nome.Butcher beamed with confidence, almost tasting victory on the coast, but said, "You don't have it until you cross the finish line. But it certainly looks good. I'm very happy with my team."