This is an extract from the official Iditarod website (www.iditarod.com):
The Last Great Race on Earth.A race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod. A race extraordinaire, a race only possible in Alaska.
There are two official starts to the Iditarod: the ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage and the actual start in Willow. The finish is in Nome.
Teams from all over the world (i.e. Alaska and Canada) come to participate in the Iditarod, and this year's contestants include a Scot, a Belgian and a Jamaican!
We watched the mushers and their teams of sixteen dogs set off from the city centre, and then raced to the airstrip where the ceremonial route ends. We cheered the mushers in while snowflakes danced all around us. It was quite surreal, and we felt thoroughly Alaskan!