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The Latest: Iditarod takes mushers through Alaska wilderness

March 3, 2019
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Defending champion Joar Leifseth Ulsom is greeted by local fan Ole Andersson during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday, March 2, 2019 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

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

2:30 p.m.

The world’s most famous sled dog race is underway in Alaska.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race started Sunday afternoon in Willow, Alaska, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Anchorage.

Mushers leave the start line in two-minute intervals. The first musher out on the thousand-mile (1,600-kilometer) trail to the finish line in Nome was Anja Radano.

There are 52 mushers total in the international field, which includes four Canadians, two Norwegians including the defending champion and one musher each from Sweden and France.

Mushers will guide their dog teams over two mountain ranges, untamed wilderness, the Yukon River and the dangerous, wind-whipped Bering Sea coast. The winner is expected under the famous burled arch finish line in Nome, on Alaska’s western coast, in about nine days.

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8:30 a.m.

Joar Leifseth Ulsom may not be flashy or brash, but he has sled cred.

The quiet, unassuming 32-year-old defending champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race leads the field of 52 mushers hoping to be the first to reach Alaska’s western coast after a thousand-mile (1,600-kilometer) trek across the Alaska wilderness.

The lineup includes four Canadians, two Norwegians including Ulsom and one musher each from Sweden and France.

That quest officially begins Sunday as the mushers take off from a frozen lake about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Anchorage.

The winner is expected in Nome, an old Gold Rush town on Alaska’s Bering Sea coast, in about nine days.