Iditarod race is under way in Alaska

March 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The 36th annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is under way in Alaska. After a ceremonial start Saturday, the 1,100-mile race officially begins today. A record 96 teams, including six past winners, are competing for an $875,000 purse. It will be split among the top 30 finishers.

Fans bundled up in Anchorage Saturday, braving wind-chills just above zero for the 11-mile ceremonial run from downtown's Fourth Avenue. Mushers were relaxed, but many of their dogs were wild with eagerness, barking, wagging their tails and jumping in place.

The show is put on for the throngs who come to cheer. Snow is trucked in to cover the streets for the short run. And the sleds carry passengers, called Idita-Riders, who bid for the privilege in an auction.

The actual start Sunday is about 50 miles north of Anchorage in the town of Willow.