33 Iditarod sled dog race mushers to trek across Alaska

Iditarod-Ceremonial Start
Attentive sled dogs await the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The smallest field ever of only 33 mushers will start the competitive portion of the Iditarod Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Willow, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Iditarod-Ceremonial Start
The lead dogs for musher Bailey Vitello of Milan, New Hampshire, run down Fourth Avenue during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The smallest field ever of only 33 mushers will start the competitive portion of the Iditarod Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Willow, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Iditarod-Ceremonial Start
Defending champion Brent Sass, wearing bib No. 14, waves to the crowd during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The smallest field ever of only 33 mushers will start the competitive portion of the Iditarod Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Willow, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Iditarod Ceremonial Start
FILE – Mille Porsild and her dog team pass by Camp Flamingo on the Susitna River during the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race north of Willow, Alaska, on March 7, 2021. The Iditarod, the world’s most famous sled dog race, begins Saturday, March 4, 2023, with a fan-friendly 11-mile (17.7 kilometer) jaunt through the streets of Anchorage. (Bill Roth/Anchorage Daily News via AP, Pool)
Iditarod-Ceremonial Start
Defending champion Brent Sass mushes his dog team down Fourth Avenue during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The smallest field ever of only 33 mushers will start the competitive portion of the Iditarod Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Willow, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Iditarod Cermonial Start
FILE – Brent Sass drives his team along the beach as he finishes the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, March 18, 2020, near Nome, Alaska. Sass is back this year to defend his title in the Iditarod, the world’s most famous sled dog race, which begins Saturday, March 4, 2023, with a fan-friendly 11-mile (17.7 kilometer) jaunt through the streets of Anchorage. (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP, File)
Iditarod-Ceremonial Start
Cece Boyle, who works for musher Mille Porsild of Denmark, gets kisses from two of Porsild’s dogs before the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, March 4, 2023. The smallest field ever of only 33 mushers will start the competitive portion of the Iditarod Sunday, March 5, 2023, in Willow, Alaska. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Iditarod Ceremonial Start
FILE – Musher Peter Kaiser, of Bethel, Alaska, leads his team past spectators during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in Anchorage, Alaska, March 7, 2015. The Iditarod, the world’s most famous sled dog race, begins Saturday, March 4, 2023, with a fan-friendly 11-mile (17.7 kilometer) jaunt through the streets of Anchorage. (AP Photo/Rachel D’Oro, File)
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WILLOW, Alaska (AP) — The race to Nome starts Sunday for 33 mushers in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska.

The mushers are to take off every two minutes in a staggered start across a frozen lake about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Anchorage. The race starts Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. local time.

They will travel nearly a thousand miles (1,609 kilometers) over the unforgiving Alaska winterscape, climbing over two mountain ranges, mushing on frozen rivers and streams and across the treacherous Bering Sea ice. The winner is expected to drive their sled dog team down Nome’s Front Street to the iconic burled arch finish line in about 10 days.

Leading the charge will be defending champion Brent Sass, a kennel owner and wilderness guide who lives on a homestead about a four-hour drive northwest of Fairbanks.

Also competing is Pete Kaiser, the 2019 champion. The 33 mushers in the race is the smallest field ever. The very first race, held in 1973, had 34 mushers, but the average number of starters in the first 50 races was 63.

Only having two former champions in the race this year is a rarity.

Several veteran mushers have decided to retire or take a break from the Iditarod, including five-time champion Dallas Seavey, four-time winners Martin Buser and Jeff King and three-time champ Mitch Seavey.

Copyright © 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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