On March 1, 69 mushers, behind teams of yapping, energetic dogs rolled down Fourth Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska, culminating years of preparation, trial and error, defeat and victory. Saturday was for show, but on Sunday, real racing began on a frozen lake in tiny Willow, Alaska, one of the state's unofficial dog-mushing capitals about 70 miles north of Alaska's largest city. Defending champion Mitch Seavey, was the sixth to leave from the start line, vying for a repeat.
But he faced some stiff competition along the way, including his son Dallas, who won in 2012, and Aliy Zirkle, who was runner-up two years in a row. Two four-time champions also returned, Martin Buser and Jeff King, chasing their fifth wins. And after a six-year absence, two-time champion Robert Sorlie returned to the Iditarod Trail. All of the top 10 finishers from the 2013 race returned, all hoping to capture the ultimate Iditarod prize. Along the way, they would face a tough trail without much snow, as an unusually warm winter around Alaska deteriorated trails and thinned snow and ice cover.
Follow Alaska Dispatch as we travel along the Iditarod Trail with these photos and videos.