Under a bright blue sky with thousand watching, David Lindquist became the first musher to drive his team out of the starting chute, kicking off the 26th Iditarod dog race in Anchorage, Alaska, Saturday.
It was a scene that would have made America's pioneers proud. Sixty-three teams lined up for the ceremonial start. This year's 1,000-mile event has attracted one of the largest fields since 1993. There are nine women, 19 rookies, and five racers from other countries.
Favored to win is defending champ Martin Buser, driving a 16-dog team of Iditarod veterans. This will be Buser's 15th race.
Teams depart every two minutes under a red-white-and-blue banner declaring Iditarod ``the last great race.''
Saturday's start, staged in part for the adoring crowds, does not count toward a musher's final elapsed time. Sunday's official restart begins at 11 a.m. and attracts another 5,000 or so fans.
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