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Best of Iditarod 2014 photos

Loren Holmes
Cim Smyth's team howls as they get ready to leave the Nikolai checkpoint on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Loren Holmes photo

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.

  1. 1 Photos: A memorable Iditarod finish in Nome

    A race the was memorable right from the start, wound to a memorable conclusion on Front Street in Nome.

  2. 2 Photos: The Iditarod's final push to Nome

    Only two years after a humbling defeat near the shores of the Bering Sea, grizzled Jeff King from the community of Denali Park in the heart of Alaska is poised to claim the crown as one of the greatest -- if not the greatest -- Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champions of all time.

     

  3. 3 Photos: Iditarod leaders depart White Mountain

    The leaders of the 2014 Iditarod set out from White Mountain Monday afternoon bound for their last stop -- and a well deserved rest -- in Nome.

  4. 4 Photos: Iditarod leaders pause in White Mountain before run to Nome

    The 2014 Iditarod is Jeff King's race to lose. History shows that the hour separating King and second-place racer Aliy Zirkle may be too much to overcome on the home stretch to Nome.

  5. 5 Photos: Iditarod leaders arrive in Koyuk

    Could the 58-year-old Jeff King of Denali Park finally join Rick Swenson as the Iditarod's only five-time champions? Days ago, King was hours behind.  Now, he was neck and neck -- pulling into the Koyuk checkpoint just a minute behind Aliy Zirkle before grabbing the lead by leaving one minute ahead of her at 5:50 p.m.

  6. 6 Photos: Overnight in Unalakleet

    The Iditarod race trail along the Norton Sound coast is icy and hard. Glare, windswept ice will challenge teams already fatigued by more than 800 miles of racing. Although challenging for the drivers, the icy trail usually proves to be easy pulling and fast for the dogs. 

  7. 7 Photos: Iditarod comes to Unalakleet

    Led by Aliy Zirkle, the frontrunners came speeding into Unalakleet Saturday afternoon. With no more guessing where mushers will take mandatory rest, the rest of the Iditarod will simply be a 265-mile race to the finish.

  8. 8 Photos: Nighttime in Galena

    When the sun goes down, the race goes on for mushers, dogs, officials and volunteers on the Iditarod Trail.

  9. 9 PHOTOS: Iditarod returns to recovering Galena

    Nine months after the worst flood in 100 years left the Yukon River town of Galena struggling to rebuild, things are slowly coming back to their regular pace. One thing that's helping? The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

  10. 10 Photos: Ruby checkpoint

    For the first Iditarod musher to reach Ruby, the checkpoint brings the promise of a gourmet meal. For the rest of the field, while there's no champagne, Ruby is still a milestone, marking the beginning of a long stretch of mushing along the Yukon River.

  11. 11 Photos: Iditarod 2014 reaches Cripple and Ruby

    In the beginning, this year's Iditarod was more about surviving treacherous conditions, but it has shifted to a chess match as the leaders reach Ruby. Whose moves will pay off biggest is anyone's guess.

  12. 12 Photos: Takotna

    At the Takotna checkpoint, Iditarod mushers rest, regroup and refuel for the next leg of the Last Great Race.

  13. 13 Photos: Banged-up Iditarod leaders plot next steps in Cripple

    While Aaron Burmeister collected his gold nugget prize at the halfway point of Cripple, Jeff King and Sonny Lindner were looking ahead to Ruby, where both plan to take their 24-hour rests -- an unconventional move that could pay off or backfire, depending on how things unfold along the trail.

  14. 14 Photos: Iditarod mushers rest and recuperate in Nikolai

    Nikolai is one possible stop for Iditarod mushers to take their mandatory 24-hour rests, and some did just that after pulling into the Kuskokwim River community on Tuesday.

  15. 15 Photos: 2014 Iditarod sweeps into Nikolai

    The snowless, rocky Iditarod trail into Nikolai was hard on teams and their sleds, and 12 teams have withdrawn or scratched as the race enters its third day.

  16. 16 Photos: Rohn and the Farewell Burn

    Iditarod mushers were recovering from a rough ride through the Dalzell Gorge in Rohn on Tuesday, and hoping for better conditions on the Farewell Burn to Nikolai.

  17. 17 Photos: Mushers navigate Dalzell Gorge on way to Rohn

    Iditarod mushers left Rainy Pass and entered the Dalzell Gorge, only to be spat out battered and bruised on the other side on the way to Rohn.

  18. 18 Photos: DeeDee Jonrowe arrives in Rohn after tumultuous trip through Dalzell Gorge

    DeeDee Jonrowe, a longtime musher who's always a fan favorite during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, scratched Tuesday morning in Rohn.

  19. 19 Photos: Hustle and bustle at Iditarod's Rainy Pass checkpoint

    Mushers came and went in Rainy Pass on Monday, the second day of this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Many took some time to rest after a long night on the trail since leaving Willow on Sunday.

  20. 20 Photos: Iditarod mushers arrive at Puntilla Lake

    After setting a speedy pace throughout the night, the first mushers began to arrive at Puntilla Lake early Monday morning, with Kelly Maixner of Big Lake being the first to depart the checkpoint.

  21. 21 Photos: Iditarod 2014 restart in Willow, Alaska

    Iditarod mushers on Sunday raced away from thousands of cheering fans into the remote Alaska wilderness on their long journey to Nome, amid concerns that poor trail conditions may prove perilous for mushers and their dogs.

  22. 22 Photos: 2014 Iditarod ceremonial start

    Spectator Richard Roberts, a native of Minnesota, had to see the race with his own eyes: “It’s the best thing ever.”

  23. 23 Photos: Meet the mushers of Iditarod 2014

    Meet the 69 men and women who comprise the human face of the 2014 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.