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The race began approximately 12 hours ago. ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Mushers pumped their fists and high-fived fans Monday as they set out one-by-one on the world’s most famous sled dog race, a nearly 1,000-mile trek through the grueling Alaska wilderness.
The grandson of a co-founder of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was the first competitor on the trail in Fairbanks, in the heart of the state. Ryan Redington, 33, of Wasilla led the other 70 mushers out of the chute nearly a half-century after his grandfather, Joe Redington Sr., helped stage the first race in 1973.
The contest has a staggered start so fans, including 2,600 schoolchildren, can cheer on the competitors, who leave every two minutes. […] The competitive start is normally held a day later in Willow, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. But that start would have taken mushers over the Dalzell Gorge, where a lack of snow has left alders exposed on the trail and open water in places that normally would be frozen this time of year.
Winter conditions were not a concern in Fairbanks, where the temperature was minus 35 degrees Monday morning. The start was delayed a day to give mushers time to drive their dogs 360 miles north to the city of about 100,000.
Eighty-four mushers signed up for the race, and 13 scratched, so 71 sled teams took off. (more)