Think of the short jaunt in Anchorage as the festival part of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The real competition begins Sunday in Willow, 50 miles to the north.
Sixty-six mushers and their dog teams are signed up for the 1,000-mile trek through unpredictable wilderness to the old gold rush town of Nome on Alaska's western coast. Participants include 25-year-old defending champion Dallas Seavey, the youngest musher ever to win.
Whoever reaches Nome first wins a new truck and a cash prize of $50,400.
The rest of the $600,000 purse will be split between the next 29 mushers to cross the finish line.