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Iditarod all about fun Saturday, gets serious Sunday

Beth Bragg
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
The driver of a tag sled behind musher Jake Berkowitz of Big Lake overreached while giving high fives and rolled the sled on Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Martin Buser prepares for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Ramey Smyth's dogs are eager to run before the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 in downtown Anchorage, AK. Smyth is from Willow, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
The dog team of Mike Ellis of Two Rivers round the corner at 4th Avenue and Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Scott Janssen gets a hug prior to the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Alan Moore, from Two Rivers, AK, with his lead dogs at the start line at the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. Alan Moore won the 2013 Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Matt Giblin (64) of Sterling, leads Mikhail Telpin (63) of Russia, as they near the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Four-time champion Lance Mackey of Fairbanks checks his dog team prior to the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Victoria Tenney, from Seattle, WA, collects an autograph from musher Aliy Zirkle at the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. Zirkle is married to Alan Moore who won the 2013 Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race. This is Tenney's first time viewing the Iditarod and hopes to some day fulfill her life long dream of running the Iditarod. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Michael Williams, Jr., of Akiak, reaches out to high five fans along Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
1978 Iditarod champion Dick Mackey, left, speaks to his son Jason Mackey as he prepares to leave the start line during the ceremonial of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Newtown Marshal of St. Ann, Jamaica gets a last minute kiss during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
The dog team driven by Brent Sass makes its way down the Chester Creek Greenbelt during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Nancy Livingstone prepares for her 13th time as an Iditarider. For the most recent years, she's been running with the Norwegian teams. This year it is Joar Leifseth Ulsom. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race got underway in Anchorage with the ceremonial start, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
Four-time champion Jeff King of Denali drives his dog team down the crowd-lined 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Former champion John Baker gets ready to leave the ceremonial start line of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Newton Marshall of St. Ann, Jamaica greets fans at the mile four muffin checkpoint on the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Team dogs of four-time champion Lance Mackey are led to the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Brent Sass of Manley Hot Springs drives his dog team down the Cordova Street hill during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Joar Leifseth Ulsom of Roros, Norway, take to the trail during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Michelle Phillips of Tagish, Yukon Territory smiles as she is serenaded with "O Canada" at the mile four muffin checkpoint on the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Honey is not happy about being left in the dog truck at the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. Honey did not run in the ceremonial start but will be in Kristy Berington's team when they hit the trial for the start in Willow on Sunday. Berington is from Kasilof, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake was the first musher to hit the trail during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Allen Moore of Two Rivers during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Race fans greet mushers with baked goods at the mile four muffin checkpoint on the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Cim Smyth, of Two Rivers, AK, drives his dog team down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Fans catch the action along Fourth Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Cameron Pete, 8, of Sebbins reaches out to musher Louie Ambrose of St. Michael during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
David Sawatzky of Healy crosses Chester Creek during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 along the Chester Creek Greenbelt in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Message on the dog truck of Sonny Lindner of Two Rivers during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Aliy Zirkle of Two Rivers waves to the crowd along Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Cameron Pete, 8, top, Monet Navarrette, 4, center, and Jenae Dukes, 5, of Stebbins lean out to greet mushers during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Iditarider Brittany Savercool of Pennsylvania receives an airborne snack at the mile four muffin checkpoint on the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage. Savercool was riding in the sled of Jodi Bailey of Chatanika.
Erik Hill
Matt Giblin of Sterling greets fans during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 along the Chester Creek Greenbelt in Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Evan King, 10, hangs out in one of his uncle Linwood Fiedler's dog boxes before the musher left for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
DeeDee Jonrowe of Willow negotiates the corner at 4th Avenue and Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Sonny Lindner of Two Rivers drives a height sled during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Pirate fan Jodi Bailey of Chatanika responds as fans greet her with a rousing chorus of "A Pirate's Life for Me" at the mile four muffin checkpoint on the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Fans take in the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Race in Anchorage, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
Ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Honey is not happy about being left in the dog truck at the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. Honey did not run in the ceremonial start but will be in Kristy Berington's team when they hit the trial for the start in Willow on Sunday. Berington is from Kasilof, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Jeff King's dogs move down the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Rudy Demoski Sr. drives his team down 4th Ave. during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race in Anchorage, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
Justin Savidis of Willow drives his dog team down a foggy 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News A pair of Michelle Phillips' team dogs get a little testy before the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. Phillips is from from Tagish, Yukon Territory, Canda. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Fans flock to the trail adjacent to Wesleyan Drive during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday March 2, 2013 in east Anchorage.
Erik Hill
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race got underway in Anchorage with the ceremonial start, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
Angie Taggart of Ketchikan greets fans during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Grace Michaelson, from Wisconsin, visits with Karin Hendrickson's sled dog Luna during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 in downtown Anchorage, AK. Michaelson's dream is to be a dog musher. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Gerald Sousa, of Talkeetna and his team mush down Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race in Anchorage Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
Ray Redington, Jr., heads south on Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Calisa Kastning and her daughter Sylvie Kastning have their photo made with Iditarod musher DeeDee Jonrowe during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Matt Failor hams for a spectator's camera during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race in Anchorage, Saturday, March 2, 2013.
Anne Raup
Brent Sass of Manley Hot Springs drives his dog team down the Cordova Stree hill during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Kristy Berington, from Kasilof, AK, stands bare foot in the snow as she changes pants and puts on her bunny boots at the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
Lindwood Fiedler of Willow dives his team down Cordova Street during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
Volunteers maintain the snow coverage at Cordova Street and 15th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage on Saturday, Mar. 2, 2013.
Bill Roth
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News DeeDee Jonrowe rests her head on her father's shoulder before the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 in downtown Anchorage, AK. DeeDee's dad, Ken Stout, has cancer and his prognosis was not to live past this February. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen
BOB HALLINEN / Anchorage Daily News Mushers get ready and head down 4th Avenue during the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race on Saturday, March 2, 2013 on 4th Avenue in downtown Anchorage, AK. 130302
Bob Hallinen

It's Iditarod weekend, a time for show dogs one day and race dogs the next.

Saturday's 10 a.m. ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage is all hype and glory. Mushers get a thunderous send-off as they begin the 1,000-mile journey to Nome. Dogs get love, sponsors get attention and spectators get to cheer a far-north version of March Madness that comes with bunny boots and bushy beards.

After the pomp comes the real race, beginning at 2 p.m. Sunday in Willow. After that, who knows?

Back is last year's entire top 10, plus a handful of others who fall into the top-contender category, people like four-time champion Jeff King, who won his ninth Kusko 300 championship in January and might have something to prove after scratching last year for the first time in 22 Iditarods.

The 41st annual Iditarod comes with no rankings, no bracket, no top seeds. Ask an expert in gee-and-hawing to handicap the race and you are likely to get hem-and-hawing.

Asked for his best guess, race director Mark Nordman paused for a long moment.

"I have 10 people that are going to win," he said finally. But he wouldn't say who.

Race analyst Joe Runyan, the 1989 champion, was only slightly more specific.

"The top 10 are all back," he said. "Six of them had the best finish of their career, and generally speaking they're all young and motivated.

"There's one wild card. Jeff King is back, he has reinvented himself and is being taken seriously."

Reigning champion Dallas Seavey of Willow, who turns 26 on Monday, leads the list of returners. He's the youngest champ in the history of a race in which Michael Jordan really could be a player at age 50.

"I don't think a 50- or 60-year-old has a disadvantage in this race," said Seavey, whose challengers last year included his dad, 53-year-old Mitch Seavey, who placed seventh.

Seavey called this year's field of 66 "exceptionally strong."

"It's a unique mix of young and old," he said, "and both are at their best and both are in their prime.

"There's no way to compete with experience but young mushers like me and (Pete Kaiser) have done this their entire lives -- 20-plus years, but we started when we were 5."

RUMOR CONTROL

A couple of weeks ago, the Iditarod posted a notice on its website saying the race was on as scheduled.

The unusual announcement came after two things created some confusion. One was a New York Times article about the lack of early-season snow -- conditions that led to the cancellation of several mid-distance races and diminished training opportunities in Southcentral. The other was concern whether the Fur Rendezvous Open World Championship sprint race, held entirely in Anchorage, would have to be canceled because until mid-February, snow was sparse in town.

Iditarod spokeswoman Erin McLarnon said she posted the announcement after her brother on the East Coast called her upon hearing the Iditarod had been canceled. She figured it was time for some rumor control.

Nordman reiterated this week that this year's Iditarod was never in jeopardy and course changes were never considered.

"Everyone was so worried about the lack of snow," he said. "We never have considered changing anything about the race start in Anchorage."

The main cause of concern is the Dalzell Gorge between Rainy Pass and Rohn, where workers spent days clearing trees knocked down in a windstorm and building bridges, Nordman said.

Beyond that, he said, things look good right now.

"We have good trail up to Puntilla," he said. "There's plenty of snow through McGrath and too much snow in Iditarod and Shageluk. So far, we're set to go."

WHO'S NO. 1?

Racers wear bib numbers according to a random start order determined by a Thursday night draw.

No one wears No. 1. The No. 1 bib is ceremonial and is awarded in honor of someone each year. This year, it honors Jan Newton, the longtime Takotna checker who died last summer. She baked hundreds of pies and served thousands of meals to mushers over the years.

The first musher on the trail will wear bib No. 2. Four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake drew that number and will lead the parade of mushers out of Anchorage and Willow.

RACE OF CHAMPIONS

Buser is one of six Iditarod champions in the field of 66. He won titles in 1992, 1994, 1997 and 2002.

Others include both Seaveys (Dallas last year; Mitch in 2004), Lance Mackey (2007-10), King (1993, 1996, 1998, 2006) and John Baker (2011).

Mackey is one of just four mushers to win consecutive titles. The others are Rick Swenson (1981-82), Susan Butcher (1986-88) and Doug Swingley (1999-2001).

TOUGH WAGES

A purse of $600,000, up $50,000 from a year ago, is up for grabs for the top 30 finishers. Of that, $50,400 will go to the winner.

Say it takes nine days -- 216 hours -- for the winner to finish. He or she will have earned $233.33 per hour.

No one has reached millionaire status based on Iditarod winnings. The closest to doing so are King, whose winnings total $808,720, and Buser, who has won $751,320.

In addition to the prize money for the top 30, $1,049 will be awarded to each musher who finishes 31st or lower. The amount represents the symbolic distance of the Iditarod trail, with the 49 a nod to Alaska's status as the 49th state.

THE REAL DISTANCE

The Iditarod isn't 1,049 miles long. It isn't even 1,000 miles long.

According to the race's mileage chart, the race is 998 miles long -- and that includes the 11 miles that make up Saturday's ceremonial start.

So it's really 987 miles long, from the time the clock starts ticking in Willow to the time it stops in Nome.

The race distance has decreased because of various changes to the start over the years. The biggest one, perhaps, was the decision to move the restart from Wasilla north to Willow and eliminate the run through Knik. That was done after years of inadequate snow in the Wasilla area.

Nordman said the current mileage is based on local knowledge of the trail and data from GPS devices used by mushers.

FAMILY BUSINESS

Dallas Seavey isn't exaggerating when he says the Iditarod field is a mix of young and old.

This year's oldest musher is 73-year-old Jim Lanier of Chugiak, who last year won the $3,000 in gold awarded to the first musher to reach the race's halfway point. The youngest is 21-year-old Travis Beals of Seward.

Last year, three generations of Seaveys ran -- Dallas, Mitch and 75-year-old Dan, the family patriarch.

Mitch and Dallas are back this year and they aren't the only ones making the Iditarod a family affair.

There's Mike Williams Sr. and son Mike Williams Jr. Identical twins Anna and Kristy Berington. Brothers Ramey and Cim Smyth. Brothers Lance and Jason Mackey. Husband and wife Allen Moore and Aliy Zirkle.

This is the first year both Williamses are in the race. Mike Jr., 27, took his dad's spot in 2010 when Mike Sr., 62, had health issues and has been in every race since.

Mike Jr., who is among the top tier of mushers, probably won't see a lot of his dad on the trail. But he said he'll be thinking about him.

"Naturally I'll be a little worried about him, especially with the trail reports we've heard about the Gorge," Mike Jr. said. "Once we're through the Alaska Range it should be better."

 

 

 

Reach Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or 257-4335.



Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

 

 

Ceremonial start: 10 a.m., Fourth Avenue and D Street. Sixty-six teams start from downtown in two-minute intervals beginning at 10 a.m. and run through city streets and trails to Campbell Airstrip.

Willow restart: 2 p.m. Sunday

TV - GCI Cable 1

 

 

 

 

10 a.m. Saturday, with televised coverage starting at 9:30 a.m.

2 p.m. Sunday, with televised coverage starting at 1:30 p.m.

 

 

Ceremonial start video and more Iditarod coverage
By BETH BRAGG
bbragg@adn.com
Contact Beth Bragg at bbragg@adn.com or on