ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the ceremonial start of the Iditarod (all times local):
The show went on in Alaska on Saturday morning for the ceremonial start of the world's most famous sled dog race.
Snow had to be brought in from Fairbanks to make sure the event was held in the unseasonably warm Anchorage, but the fan-friendly start to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race went off without a hitch.
Fan-favorite musher Aliy (AL'-ee) Zirkle has finished in the top five the last four years. She says the ceremonial start is the most fun day of the Iditarod because mushers get to show off their sport for the fans.
The race turns serious on Sunday with the competitive start of the nearly 1,000-mile race across Alaska to Nome for the 85 mushers.
Zirkle describes that as "pull up your britches" time.
It will be all wagging tails and smiling faces in downtown Anchorage on Saturday.
Thousands of people are expected at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It's an event designed for fans, allowing them to interact with the mushers, take photos and pet some sled dogs.
The event is going forward despite a lack of snow in Anchorage this winter. Snow even had to be shipped to Anchorage from Fairbanks for the event.
The competitive race starts Sunday in Willow, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. There are 85 mushers in this year's race covering nearly 1,000 miles to the old Gold Rush town of Nome on Alaska's western coast. The winner is expected in about nine days after the start.