ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Mushers and their dogs are taking a leisurely jaunt through Anchorage in the ceremonial start of Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
The 1,000-mile race kicked off Saturday in a festive mood as 66 teams posed with fans and sailed their sleds 11 miles on streets covered with trucked-in snow.
The event comes ahead of the real, competitive start of the race Sunday in Willow 50 miles to the north.
From there, the 16-dog teams will begin making their way through unforgiving wilderness toward the finish line in Nome on Alaska's western coast.
The winner will get a new truck and $50,400. The rest of the $600,000 purse will be split between the next 29 mushers to cross the finish line.