Feedback
News
gallery

Dashing Through the Lack of Snow? Iditarod Takes Off Anyway

Mushers and dog sled teams from around the world embark on the first leg of Alaska's grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday.

Mushers and dog sled teams from around the world embark on the first leg of Alaska's grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday, starting a nearly 1,000-mile journey through the state's unforgiving wilderness.

Above: A musher handler with Alan Eischens team embraces one of Eischen's dogs just before the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in downtown Anchorage, Alaska on March 5, 2016.

NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters
An Alaska Railroad train carries tons of snow to Anchorage, on March 3, 2016, after traveling 360 miles south from Fairbanks. The snow was used to help provide a picturesque ground cover on the streets for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, where persistent above-freezing temperatures have melted much of the local snow. The competitive part of the race, also known as the restart, officially kicked off 50 miles to the north in the town of Willow, on March 6. Rachel D'Oro / AP

This year's Iditarod features 85 mushers and teams each made up of 16 dogs. They will set off on staggered starts from the town of Willow, an hour's drive northwest of Anchorage, where the ceremonial start was staged on Saturday. The winner is likely to cross the finish line eight to 10 days later.

Above: Spectators line 4th avenue at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in downtown Anchorage, Alaska on March 5.

NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters
Alaskan musher DeeDee Jonrowe and her team at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in downtown Anchorage on March 5. Each team starts with 16 dogs, ranging from 3 to 8 years old, and is required to take a 24-hour rest, plus two separate eight-hour stops during the race. NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters

Now in its 44th year, the race commemorates a 1925 rescue mission that delivered diphtheria serum by sled-dog relay to the western coastal community of Nome on the Bering Sea.

Above: A team heads out at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to begin their journey in downtown Anchorage, on March 5.

NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters

The race, which covers 975 miles this year, is the test of extreme endurance. It features desolate stretches of up to 85 miles between checkpoints and unpredictable wind gusts as the trail hits the Bering coast. Last year temperatures along the route plunged to 60 degrees Fahrenheit below zero.

Above: Rob Cooke and his team leave the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to begin journey through Alaska's frigid wilderness in downtown Anchorage,on March 5.

NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters
Champion musher Martin Buser's son, Rohn, is seen with his dad's team before the restart of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, on March 6. Mushers and dog sled teams from around the world embark on the first leg of Alaska's grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, starting a nearly 1,000-mile journey through the state's unforgiving wilderness. NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters
Martin Koenig's team gets tangled up after leaving the start chute at the restart of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, on March 6. NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters
Travis Beals' team waits in the truck before the restart of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, on March 6. NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters
Cindy Gallea's team crosses a lake after the restart of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, on March 6. The winner will take home a cash prize of $50,400 and a new pickup truck. Other top finishers will share in a total cash purse of $750,000. NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters

Cody Strathe's team leaves the restart of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Willow, on March 6.

NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters