The Latest: Mushers begin thousand-mile trek across Alaska

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Posted: Mar 06, 2016 6:06 PM
The Latest: Mushers begin thousand-mile trek across Alaska

WILLOW, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on the Iditarod Sled Dog Race (all times local):

2 p.m.

The nearly thousand-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has started in Alaska.

Scott Janssen, an undertaker by profession who is known as the Mushing Mortician, was the first musher to leave Willow, Alaska.

The race has a staggered start, and the other 84 mushers behind Janssen, will leave in two-minute intervals.

The race crosses long stretches of unforgiving terrain, including two mountain ranges and the wind-lashed Bering Sea coast. The winner is expected in the old Gold Rush era town of Nome, on Alaska's western coast, in about nine days.

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1:15 p.m.

Iditarod musher Dallas Seavey says it feels like another day for him and his dogs, doing their thing.

That could be bad news for the other 84 mushers as this year's race kicks off Sunday in Willow, Alaska.

Seavey is the two-time defending champion in the race, and has won the nearly 1,000-mile race to Nome three out of the last four years.

Unlike other mushers who compete in other races, Seavey has only competed in the Iditarod every year since 2012. He's excited to see what his dog team can do.

He won't make any predictions beyond saying if they have a good race, then they should have a good finish.

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12:50 p.m.

Norwegians make up about 10 percent of this year's field in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

And that's leading Mats Pettersson to correct a lot of people.

That's because everyone assumes he's Norwegian, too, but he's the lone Swede in the race.

But that's not stopping Pettersson from saying a Norwegian team could win this year's race, and three of the eight Norwegians entered have very strong teams.

Eighty-five mushers will start the nearly 1,000-mile race to Nome on Sunday in Willow, Alaska.

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11:35 a.m.

Aaron Burmeister wants to be the first hometown musher from Nome to win the Iditarod.

That dream will have to wait a year, at least.

Burmeister is not running the race this year after finishing third last year. He wants to spend more time with his family, and is letting his brother, Noah, run the dogs this year.

Aaron Burmeister says if Noah winds up winning the race and becoming the first musher from Nome to win it all, no one will be happier than him.

Eighty-five mushers will start the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Sunday from Willow, Alaska. The nearly 1,000-mile race will take mushers over dangerous terrain, two mountain ranges, and along the wind-swept Bering Sea coast. The winner is expected in Nome in about nine days.

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6:51 a.m.

The mushers in this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race get very serious on Sunday.

Mushers are moving their way to the starting line in Willow, Alaska, a day after the fan-friendly and more relaxed ceremonial start of the race in Anchorage.

Final preparations will be made before the start of the nearly 1,000-mile (1,600-kilometer) race to Nome. This includes saying goodbye to friends and families and making the final checks of their sleds.

The winner is expected in Nome, along the Bering Sea coast, in about nine days.