Revelers are gathering in Downtown Anchorage Saturday morning for the ceremonial start of the 42nd annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a gala event that turns much of Alaska’s largest city into a street carnival.

A total of 69 mushers were set to take a lap through Anchorage before Sunday’s race restart in Willow, when competition becomes serious along the 1,000-mile trail to the Burled Arch in Nome.

Following an honorary musher, the 10 a.m. ceremonial start began with New Zealand’s Curt Perano, in an order determined by a random draw of mushers during a pre-race banquet Thursday night at the Dena’ina Center in Downtown Anchorage.

This year’s race restart was almost moved to Fairbanks, before a last-minute Iditarod Trail Committee decision to keep the Sunday restart in Willow. Some veteran mushers have said they would prefer to restart in Fairbanks, but think they can handle potentially poor trail conditions as is.

Channel 2 aired a 30-minute pre-start special live at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The show's four parts can be viewed at these links: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4