Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Begins in Anchorage

By: Mary Pemberton AP
By: Mary Pemberton AP
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is under way in Alaska

Rodney Whaley, a veteran of 24 years in the Tennessee National Guard, is one of only 102 people in the world to qualify for the 1,159-mile race.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is under way in Alaska's largest city with 67 teams setting their sights for Nome.

The ceremonial start, in which mushers take a short run through Anchorage, is mostly for the enjoyment of the fans. It gives them an opportunity to get up close to their favorite mushers, some of whom have rock star status in Alaska.

This year's field is smaller - down from a record 96 last year - but most of the big names are in it, including two-time defending champion Lance Mackey. He says he's approaching the 1,100-mile race the same as always - expect the worst and hope for the best.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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