Crowds cheer 47th kickoff of famed Iditarod

    The 2019 Iditarod kicked off Saturday.

    Anchorage, Alaska (AP) - 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 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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