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Alaska's famed Iditarod sled-dog race starts with ceremonial jaunt

Published on Mar 2, 2014 8:03 AM

(REUTERS) - Dozens of mushers and their sled-dog teams on Saturday joined in the ceremonial start to Alaska's famed Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race that will take contestants through nearly 1,600km of wilderness over the next week.

Fans lined the streets of downtown Anchorage with cameras, banners and signs and outstretched hands hoping for a passing high five from the competitors.

The 18-km jaunt through the state's largest city sets the stage for Sunday's start of a race that commemorates a 1925 rescue mission that carried diphtheria serum to Nome by sled-dog relay. A total of 69 mushers, some from as far away as Jamaica and New Zealand, are expected to take part.

"Saturday is an opportunity to interact with mushers, watch dog teams excited to leave the starting line, travel 11 miles of the city streets and call it a day," said race executive director Stan Hooley. "There is much more of an opportunity to touch and feel the race, and celebrate this great race."

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