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Iditarod sled dog race gets under way in Alaska

  • The dogs of Canadian musher Karen Ramstead, from Perryval Alberta, are decked out in appropriate colors as they cross the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    The dogs of Canadian musher Karen Ramstead, from Perryval Alberta, are decked out in appropriate colors as they cross the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers, Alaska, greets fans at the top of Cordova Street Hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers, Alaska, greets fans at the top of Cordova Street Hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Newton Marshall of St. Anne, Jamaica acknowledges fans while descending the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Newton Marshall of St. Anne, Jamaica acknowledges fans while descending the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • The dog team of Dan Kaduce of Chatanika, Alaska, heads down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    The dog team of Dan Kaduce of Chatanika, Alaska, heads down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Rookie Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm, Minn., greets fans after descending Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Rookie Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm, Minn., greets fans after descending Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Two-time Iditarod champion Robert Sorlie of Norway hits the trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Two-time Iditarod champion Robert Sorlie of Norway hits the trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Siberian huskies Fritz, left, and Ruby lead the rookie team of Lisbet Norris of Willow, Alaska, across a bridge over Tudor Road during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Siberian huskies Fritz, left, and Ruby lead the rookie team of Lisbet Norris of Willow, Alaska, across a bridge over Tudor Road during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • 2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey interacts with fans gathered at Campbell Airstrip during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey interacts with fans gathered at Campbell Airstrip during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Cindy Abbott, of Irvine, Calif., waves to the crowd during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Cindy Abbott, of Irvine, Calif., waves to the crowd during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • Justin Savidis, of Willow, Alaska, leaves the start line  during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    Justin Savidis, of Willow, Alaska, leaves the start line during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • 2013 Iditarod Rookie of the Year Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway prepares to cross Tudor Road during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

    2013 Iditarod Rookie of the Year Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway prepares to cross Tudor Road during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth) LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

  • The dogs of Canadian musher Karen Ramstead, from Perryval Alberta, are decked out in appropriate colors as they cross the bridge to Goose Lake during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers, Alaska, greets fans at the top of Cordova Street Hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Newton Marshall of St. Anne, Jamaica acknowledges fans while descending the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • The dog team of Dan Kaduce of Chatanika, Alaska, heads down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Rookie Nathan Schroeder of Chisholm, Minn., greets fans after descending Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Erik Hill)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Two-time Iditarod champion Robert Sorlie of Norway hits the trail during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Siberian huskies Fritz, left, and Ruby lead the rookie team of Lisbet Norris of Willow, Alaska, across a bridge over Tudor Road during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • 2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey interacts with fans gathered at Campbell Airstrip during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Cindy Abbott, of Irvine, Calif., waves to the crowd during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • Justin Savidis, of Willow, Alaska, leaves the start line  during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bob Hallinen)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)
  • 2013 Iditarod Rookie of the Year Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Norway prepares to cross Tudor Road during the ceremonial start for the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 1, 2014, in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/The Anchorage Daily News, Bill Roth)  LOCAL TV OUT (KTUU-TV, KTVA-TV) LOCAL PRINT OUT (THE ANCHORAGE PRESS, THE ALASKA DISPATCH)

WILLOW, Alaska — A New Zealander was the first musher en route to the town of Nome when the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race began yesterday.

Curt Perano and 68 other mushers began the world’s most famous sled-dog race by crossing frozen Willow Lake about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Anchorage.

It was a staggered start, meaning one musher left every two minutes. The order was drawn at a musher’s banquet Thursday night in Anchorage.

The finish line is on Front Street in Nome, which runs parallel to the Bering Sea coast. Standing between the mushers and the finish line are about 1,000 miles of unforgiving Alaska terrain, including two mountain ranges, untamed wilderness, the mighty Yukon River and the wind-whipped Bering Sea coast.

Among those in the field are Mitch Seavey, last year’s champion, and his son, Dallas Seavey, the 2012 winner.

“The last two winners might create more media interest,” Dallas Seavey said before the race started. “But it doesn’t mean that we’re necessarily the two most competitive racers this year.”

Adding to the uncertainty of this year’s race is an influx of Scandinavian mushers, including two-time champion Robert Sorlie.

“I don’t think we’re trying to take it over,” Sorlie said.

Instead, there are so many Scandinavians here because the Iditarod is the world standard for long-distance dog races, he said.

The influx of five Norwegians, or “invasion” as Yvonne Dabakk of Oslo described it, is likely just a coincidence, she said.

Dabakk said she believes all had independent plans to race the Iditarod, “and it was this year.”

She is a rookie this year, and she wants the prize given to all first-year mushers to finish the race: a belt buckle.

Aaron Burmeister wants to be the first musher from Nome to win the Iditarod.

We haven’t had a winner from Nome yet. I’m working as hard as I can to be able to do that,” he said.

Burmeister welcomes the return of the Norwegian mushers because they bring more competition to the race.

“When I win the Iditarod, I want to have the best competition in the world there,” Burmeister said.

The trail conditions could prove to be an advantage for one musher’s wife.

Allen Moore of Two Rivers, Alaska, last month won his second consecutive Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. The conditions now are the same as they were for the start of the Quest, he said.

His wife, musher Aliy Zirkle, will be using this team on the race while Moore races other dogs.

Zirkle has finished second in the Iditarod the last two years, and her team might give her the needed boost this year because trail familiarity in the Yukon Quest.

“Our dogs have gone over 1,000 miles, and they know what to expect,” Moore said

Newton Marshall of St. Anne, Jamaica, is another international musher at the race. He’s competing in his fourth Iditarod.

Marshall’s race strategy is simple: He just wants to finish the race. He plans to take it slow and simple “and get to Nome,” he said.

When asked how his team looks, Marshall said: “My team looks ... I’ll find out on the trail.”

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