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The Latest: Crowds cheer kickoff of Alaska’s famed Iditarod

March 2, 2019
FILE - In this March 2, 2014, file photo, musher Nathan Schroeder drives his dog team down the trail just after the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race near Willow, Alaska. The world's foremost sled dog race kicks off its 47th running this weekend on Saturday, March 2, 2019, as organizers and competitors strive to push past a punishing two years for the image of the sport. Some of the drama has been resolved for Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race. (Bob Hallinen/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (all times local):

10:30 a.m.

Cheering crowds lined snow-heaped streets in Alaska’s largest city Saturday as hundreds of dogs and their humans kicked off the 47th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race with a short sprint through town.

Before setting off, the dogs barked furiously, jumping and straining against their sled lines in apparent excitement to get going on the 11-mile or 18-kilometer dash in Anchorage.

The fan-friendly event brought spectators up close with the 52 musher-dog teams gearing up for the famed race.

The actual 1,000-mile or 1,600 km wilderness trek starts Sunday in the small community of Willow, north of Anchorage.

The race follows two difficult years for organizers that included a dog-doping scandal, the loss of big-name sponsors and escalating pressure from animal activists over multiple dog deaths.

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Midnight

Big crowds are expected to gather along snow-heaped streets in Alaska’s largest city Saturday as hundreds of dogs and their humans kick off the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race with a short ceremonial run through town.

The competitive portion of the 1,000-mile or 1,600-kilometer wilderness trek starts Sunday in the small community of Willow, north of Anchorage.

Participants include defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway, three four-time winners and a three-time champion.

The race follows two difficult years for organizers that included a dog-doping scandal, the loss of big-name sponsors and escalating pressure from animal activists over multiple dog deaths.