A field filled with past champions promises to make this year’s Iditarod sled-dog race as competitive as ever.
According to the Alaska Dispatch, five racers are early favorites but a longer list of 15 teams could win roughly 10 days from now in Nome.
The 1,000-mile race began today with a ceremonial start in Anchorage. Up for grabs is $50,400 and a new truck; the other 29 top finishers split what's left of the $600,000 pot.
The Dispatch tags Martin Buser, John Baker, defending-champ Dallas Seavey, Aaron Burmeister and Ramey Smyth as early favorites; all are from Alaska.
Buser is a four-time champion, and the weather report suggests favorable conditions for the Big Lake native. He drew bib No. 2 and will lead the pack during the ceremonial start.
“I guess someone has to be the rabbit,” he told the Dispatch.
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The 2013 Iditarod field has five champions trying to regain the title. Seavey and Buser are joined by Lance Mackey, Jeff King and 2004 champion Mitch Seavey.
The start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race began at 10 am local time on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage.
Sixty-seven racers from across the US, Canada, Russia, Norway, New Zealand and further afield — Newton Marshall is from Jamaica and Luan Ramos Marques from Brazil — are entered into this year’s event.
Thirteen of the racers are rookies and 16 are women. Baker, who finished in 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds, set the record in 2011.
Being an odd-numbered year, the race follows its southern course (they go north in even years).
For the first time ever, someone from outside Alaska led the ceremonial start today, Reuters reported.
Tradition dictates the junior race winner leads the mushers out of Anchorage today. Noah Pereira of Clarkson, New York, made history on Feb. 24 by becoming the first out-of-state musher to win the Jr. Iditarod since it began in 1977.
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