The Canadian Challenge Sled Dog Race kicked off Tuesday in Prince Albert.

The starting point for the race, on Central Avenue, had people lining the street to watch.

There are 17 mushers from Canada and Alaska competing in two distances.

Musher Gerry Walker, from Pierceland, has competed 11 times in the race's 17-year history.

"Once you're out on the trail with you and your dog, it's just a super experience," Walker said, prior to the start of the race. "You just try to put everything else out of your mind and just focus on running a smooth dog team and making a smooth trip. And the finish will take care of itself."

skpic dog sled race

Musher and dog teams head out from Prince Albert for the Canadian Challenge Dog Sled races. (Ryan Pilon/CBC)

Mushers with eight dogs in their team will finish the race in La Ronge, Sask. Mushers with 12-dog teams will turn around in La Ronge and finish up at Elk Ridge in Waskesiu. The longer race will not finish until about Friday evening or Saturday morning.

"The biggest problem for a musher is probably sleep deprivation," Walker added. "I actually set the record, twice, here for a 60-hour run and a 63-hour run. And I probably got four hours of sleep in that time."

The Canadian Challenge is a qualifying race for races in Yukon and Alaska.

With files from CBC's Ryan Pilon