Mushers Move Through Anchorage Woods in Ceremonial Iditarod Start

A man racing dogs in Alaska

Cheering fans lined the streets of Alaska's largest city as mushers and their dogs took a short sprint through town Saturday for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The finish line is in Nome on the Bering Sea Coast, where the dog sled teams are expected to reach in eight days.

The victor is expected in the old Gold Rush town of Nome about nine days later. The teams will trek to Willow for Sunday morning's official start on the 1,000-mile run to Nome.

A dog from Dave Delcourt's team
Mushers Move Through Anchorage Woods in Ceremonial Iditarod Start

Handlers with Norwegian musher Lars Monsen say the dog, Hudson, bolted from a kennel truck near 4th Avenue and F Street at about 7 a.m.as Monsen - wearing bib number 61 - prepared for Saturday's ceremonial start of The Last Great Race. The victor also receives a new truck. The race's governing board faced criticism for the tardy release of the information. He denies he gave his dogs the opioid painkiller tramadol. Race rules have since been changed to hold mushers liable for any positive drug test unless they can show something beyond their control occurred.

There's also the matter of Dallas Seavey, a four-time champion of the race who, in October 2017, found himself at the heart of a doping scandal. His toughest challenger isn't in the race, however.

Then there's People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has outright accused Iditarod organizers and competitors of lying about the condition of its dogs, urged the event to become a "race without dogs", and paved the way for lucrative sponsors, including Wells Fargo, to sever ties with the festivities.

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