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Iditarod: Mushers gear up in Alaska ahead of the start of the race

The 1,000-mile cross-country trek will begin tomorrow and for now contestants and fans are celebrating in Anchorage.

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Rookie Jon Korta mushes his sled dog team over frozen Willow Lake at the start of the Iditarod in 2007. (AFP/Getty Images)

The downtown area of the Alaskan city of Anchorage closed its streets today to mark the ceremonial launch of the 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled-Dog race, according to The Associated Press.

The annual race is to begin tomorrow when 66 dog “mushers” set out from a location 50 miles north of Anchorage which finishes in the coastal former gold-rush town of Nome.

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For now, fans have lined the streets of Anchorage to see the sled teams prepare, the news agency said, saying that this year’s teams include contestants from four other states and four other countries.

The defending champion is John Baker, 49. Lance Mackey, who won the four previous races before Baker, according to the AP.

The news agency said Baker was the first Inupiat Eskimo to win the race and the first Alaska native to do so since Jerry Riley won 36 years ago.

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According to local TV station KTV11, the contestants will include identical twin sisters Kristy and Anna Berrington.

Kristy has competed in the Iditarod twice before. They appeared in this newscast report:

 

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