Sure, the start line is where the excitement is, but you will get a better views and thinner crowds if you move a bit down the track! My experience was that it was easy to find free curbside parking on 5th avenue, and then just a short walk (five blocks, maybe) to the race area.
TheBalto Statue in Downtown Anchorage marks the ceremonial starting point of the Iditarod, Alaska's legendary dogsled race. Balto was the final lead sled dog in a relay of dogsleds that brought vaccine from Anchorage to Nome just in time to stop a diptheria epidemic that was threatening to devastate Nome's population in the winter of 1925. The story of the sled dog relay is a classic tale of adventure and sacrifice, as dozens of dogs and mushers risked their lives in brutal conditions (-50 degree temperatures and whiteout blizzards) to save their fellow citizens. There is also a statue of Balto in New York City's Central Park.
The grueling 1000+ mile Iditarod Trail Race, which begins in Anchorage, starts every year in early March to mark the 1925 sled dog relay to Nome to bring diphtheria serum.
This statue of the legendary lead dog Balto, located on 4th Avenue, marks the "official" starting point of the race. The Iditarod is actually re-started in Wasilla, Alaska, about 45 miles north of Anchorage.
The start of the Iditarod is so popular that literally thousands of tourists line the streets of downtown Anchorage to watch. As a tourist I had imagined many teams starting at once, but they are actually announced and depart one team at a time.
The Iditarod draws tourists (and conferences) from all over for the start of the annual dog-sled race from Anchorage to Nome - so called the "Last Great Race on Earth."
In 2003 the weather so mild in Anchorage that they had to make the start of the race in Anchorage only a few ceremonial blocks and then re-start the race proper in Fairbanks. There was so little ice and snow in Anchorage that they had to bring truckloads of the stuff in and cover the city streets with it for the race. Fellow conference-goers from Washington DC joked that they must have imported the snow from Washington, since the East coast had been hit particularly hard that winter. I was quite relieved since, coming from Vancouver, I had no really good cold weather clothing in my closet!
Nevertheless, the ceremonial start of the Iditarod was a "must see" event. Thousands of people lined the streets to cheer on a hundred dog teams and their mushers. The dogs themselves were surprising. I had pictured huskies as being big fluffy animals, but these dogs were bred lean, quite small but powerful - and VERY keen to run. It was quite a spectacle.
I understand that the 2004 Iditarod is scheduled for Saturday, March 6th in Anchorage.
The world's most famous and richest dog sled race starts in Anchorage and ends 1100 miles later in Nome. It is the Iditarod Trail Race, and it commemorates the frantic run of blood serum on the Iditarod Trail to Nome during a cholera outbreak.
My dad always wanted to see the Iditarod, so he planned a trip from Ohio to visit me to coincide with the start of the 2003 Iditarod Trail Race. He also dragged both my brothers along, one of whom lived in California for many years and had no cold weather clothes!
The 2003 race was unusual because the winter was very warm and dry. For the first time in Iditarod history, there was no snow downtown, so snow from the Chugach Mountains had to be loaded onto dump trucks and dumped on the roads in Anchorage to give the racers some kind of snow base. The course on the first day was shortened; typically it went to Eagle River, about 16 miles away, but on this day the course ended at the Campbell Field Airstrip, about 5 or 6 miles away.
The Anchorage start is typically a pagaentry more than anything else; the "official" start of the race is always the next day in Wasilla, and is called by locals the "restart." This year, however, Wasilla was hit with the same drought as Anchorage, so the "restart" was moved to Nenana, just south of Fairbanks. This was a major rerouting of the trail, and the first time in the history of the Iditarod that this occurred.
This endurance dog mushing race from Anchorage to Nome is one of the famous events of Alaska. If I recall correctly, it occurs during the winter month of March every one. If you happen to be Anchorage then, this is not to be missed.
If you around Ancorage in March, you should see the start of the Iditorod Race. It starts in the morning and allows 80 some contestants to leave every two minutes. You can visit with the riders and see the dogs and find out how much goes into this race.
Mushers are very nice and happy to talk and share their stories.
Go to Anchorage in early march for the start of the Iditarod dog sled races. ALso take a tour out to the Iditarod miseum just out of the city-
Also must take a bus tour out to Seward to go on a whaing cruise and see the glaciers