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The Latest: Crowds cheer kickoff of Alaska's famed Iditarod

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Latest on Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race (all times local): 10:30 a.m. 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 or 1,600 km 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.

Midnight

Big crowds are expected to gather along snow-heaped streets in Alaska's largest city Saturday as hundreds of dogs and their humans kick off the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race with a short ceremonial run through town.

The competitive portion of the 1,000-mile or 1,600-kilometer wilderness trek starts Sunday in the small community of Willow, north of Anchorage.

Participants include defending champion Joar Ulsom of Norway, three four-time winners and a three-time champion.

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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