Iditarod kicks off with ceremonial start in Anchorage
After a ceremonial start in Anchorage, Alaska, mushers are off to Nome to begin the Iditarod dog sled race through the state.
1,600 km race runs from Willow to Nome, Alaska
Mushers were making their way to Willow, Alaska, on Sunday, for the competitive start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
But Saturday was all about the fans.
Thousands lined the streets for the shortened, fan-friendly ceremonial start in Anchorage.
The event gives fans a chance to get up close and personal with the dogs before they head out on the solitary trail.
It's very exciting.
The ceremonial start usually covers an 17.7 km route, going along city streets and trails from downtown Anchorage to the east side of the city.
But the lack of snow forced organizers to shorten the opening race to a 4.83 km route.
There are 85 mushers signed up this year for the race, which crosses long stretches of unforgiving terrain, including two mountain ranges and the wind-lashed Bering Sea coast.
In Willow, mushers make the final preparations for the nearly 1,600 km race to Nome.
This includes saying goodbye to friends and families and making the final checks of their sleds.
With files from the Associated Press.