ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - The long-awaited start of the 47th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race kicked off Saturday, March 2. Channel 2 was live in the heart of downtown Anchorage as the mushers got ready, and took off for the ceremonial start.
If you missed the start, you can watch KTUU's live coverage online below, including commentary with expert mushers DeeDee Jonrowe and Libby Riddles, and interviews from the start with competitors in this year's race:
Snow was trucked out downtown to compensate for otherwise clear city streets, giving the dog teams something soft to run on until they complete the short ceremonial run down 4th Avenue. Dogs will run from D Street all the way to the Campbell Airstrip, a distance of 11 miles, where the teams load up and prepare for Sunday's official restart in Willow, Alaska.
The mushers began to depart at 10 a.m. at the starting line of 4th Ave. and D St. in two- and three-minute increments.
The first musher to depart, wearing Bib No. 1, was this year’s honorary musher, carried by the Junior Iditarod champion. The final musher left the starting line just before noon this year.
The mushers headed down 4th Ave., turned south onto Cordova Street, and hit the Chester Creek Trail system once they reach 16th Avenue, near the Sullivan Arena.
From there, sled teams took the trail system to the Campbell Airstrip, where the teams loaded up and prepare for Sunday’s start in Willow.
2019's race will be one to watch for many reasons.
Will Joar Leifseth Ulsom, last year's Iditarod champion from Norway, be able to defend his title?
Can Girdwood's Nicolas Petit, who led much of last year's race until he accidentally went off course and was forced to backtrack, claim the victory this year in light of last year's mishap?
Not only those two, but former champions Jeff King, Martin Buser, and Lance Mackey, will all be taking a run for the championship title. All three men have four wins each, and if they win this year, they'll be tied for the most wins ever in the race with Rick Swenson, the sometimes-called "King of the Iditarod."
Following the ceremonial start, dog teams will re-start in Willow on Sunday, starting at 2 a.m. at the Willow Community Center on Willow Lake. The mushers will cross Willow Lake, Long Lake, Crystal Lake and Vera Lake.
If you want to watch the re-start, the Iditarod Trail Committee says your best bet is to take a shuttle. A full guide on when and where to catch the shuttles can be found online here.
All spectator parking will be across the highway from the Willow Recreation center, and will be limited. There is a $10 charge per vehicle for parking.