Iditarod has ceremonial start in Anchorage

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- They are off are running in Anchorage, Alaska.

The 40th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race began Saturday morning in downtown Anchorage.

It's a ceremonial start, with mushers and their dog teams taking a leisurely 11-mile run on streets and trails in Anchorage. The event is a huge draw for fans, who line the streets to cheer on their favorite mushers.

The real race starts Sunday afternoon in Willow, Alaska, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. That's where 66 dog teams start the 1,000-mile journey across Alaska.

The winner is expected in the gold rush town of Nome, on Alaska's west coast, in about eight days.