The annual Nunavut Quest/Pangaggujjiniq dog sled race began in Igloolik today.

The long-distance dog team race began in 1999 at the creation of Nunavut. Every year, teams race between different communities in the North Baffin Island region.

This year the teams will race 395 kilometres from Igloolik to Pond Inlet.

Ice conditions on the bay were too rough to do the start on the sea ice in front of town, so the racers headed off Igloolik Island's back side towards a clearer path north along the Fury and Hecla Strait.

"The racers are now in Igloolik and everyone is very proud when they arrive to your community," said Charlie Inuarak, mayor of Pond Inlet, in Inuktitut.

"There will be nine racers in total and they will have a tough race but are prepared and we will expect them to arrive here to us in Pond Inlet."

Racers will endure deep soft snow and pass through long valleys. There will also be pack ice along the coastline, and racers must always be on the lookout for polar bears.

This year's youngest racer is 15 years old.