Willow, Alaska • A New Zealand man will be the first musher en route to the town of Nome when the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins Sunday.
Curt Perano and 68 other mushers will begin the world's most famous sled dog race by crossing frozen Willow Lake about 50 miles north of Anchorage.
It's a staggered start, meaning one musher leaves every two minutes. The order was drawn at a musher's banquet Thursday night in Anchorage, and Perano got the leading spot.
The finish line is on Front Street in Nome, which runs parallel to the Bering Sea coast. Standing between the mushers and the finish line are about 1,000 miles of unforgiving Alaska terrain, including two mountain ranges, untamed wilderness, the mighty Yukon River and the wind-whipped Bering Sea coast.