The Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race is underway and 26 teams have left Whitehorse for Fairbanks, Alaska, 1,600 trail kilometres away.

Temperatures were around -35 C as the racers prepared to leave Saturday morning, but that didn't stop hundreds of bundled up fans from showing up.

First out of the starting chute was reigning champ Allen Moore from Alaska, followed by fellow Alaskan Brent Sass.

Sass and Moore were neck and neck approaching the end of the race last year when Sass dropped out after he fell and suffered a concussion.

Yukon Quest Dog

All the training has come down to this day. (CBC)

Many of the teams should start arriving at the halfway point in Dawson City by midweek where they'll have a mandatory 24-hour layover. Then they'll head for the American border with the front runners reaching Fairbanks by the end of the week or early next week.

Fans can follow the teams progress on the Yukon Quest website.