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Iditarod Off and Mushing
March 6, 2014

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It's off to the races for 69 mushers and their dog teams in the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The 975-mile race, which alternates between two starting points, began this year in Willow, Alaska, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. Competitors dawdled through Anchorage a day earlier in an 11-mile cermonial appearance.

Stages range from 18 to 85 miles and wind through 21 other Alaska villages, as well, as lots of frozen snow. Competitors are required to take three separate rest stops, one of 24 hours and two of eight hours. The winner is expected to reach the finish line, in Nome, in as few as nine days.

Defending champion Mitch Seavey, the oldest-ever champion last year at 54, is back, for his 20th Iditarod, continuing in the foosteps of his father, Dan, who placed third in the inaugural event, 42 years ago. Mitch's son (and Dan's grandson) Dallas, now 28, was the youngest-ever winner, in 2012. Mitch himself also won in 2004. Dallas's older brother, Danny, 31, is also in the field.

The field includes six former champions, and nearly one-quarter of the field are making their first attempt. Most of the mushers are Alaska natives, among them twin sisters Anna and Kristy Berington. Others have come from far away, with various competitors listing their home countries as Australia, Canada, Jamaica, New Zealand, Norway, and Sweden. The Jamaican competitor is Newton Marshall, making his fourth attempt.

Among Seavey's expected challengers are two-time winner Norbert Sorlie of Norway and Alaskan Aliz Zirkle, who has finished second the past two years.

The total race purse is more than $650,000. The winner will take home a new truck and a cash prize of $50,400.



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