Twenty-seven Copper Basin 300 sled dog teams left Glennallen in minus-46 temperatures Saturday morning.
Several hours later, two-time defending champion Nic Petit of Girdwood led the pack to Point Lodge at Lake Louise, the race’s first checkpoint 75 miles from the start.
Petit arrived at 5:38 p.m., followed by Michelle Phillips at 6:24 p.m. At 6:47 p.m., Ryne Olson and Kayln Holl joined them.
The cold weather hasn’t prompted talk of canceling things mid-race, race manager Jason Severs said. “Everything seems to be going well,” he said.
In 1996, the Copper Basin was called off mid-race when temperatures plummeted to minus-60 and below.
From Lake Louise, teams will travel 55 miles to Sourdough, followed by a 40-mile run to Meier’s Lake, a 68-mile run to Chistochina and the final 50 miles back to Glennallen, where the race should end sometime Monday.
Along the way, teams must take a total of 18 hours of rest time plus the start differential from Saturday, when teams left Glennallen in two-minute intervals. There’s one mandatory six-hour layover that can be taken at any checkpoint; the other 12 hours can be taken in 30-minute increments.
Challenging Petit’s bid for a third straight Copper Basin title is a field that includes three-time Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey and Yukon Quest winners Aliy Zirkle and Brent Sass.