The Iditarod ceremonial start was this morning in downtown Anchorage. Teams only run about 25 miles, and the official timed start of the race is tomorrow. It's a way for mushers to do publicity and meet fans without having the pressure of having to actually start the race. Their dogs only run for about 45 minutes. In addition, the musher has an "Idita-Rider" who gets to ride in the sled. These Iditariders have bid in silent auctions to ride in the sled and the money goes to funding the Iditarod. I got called by a producer friend of mine this morning, she needed someone to do a quick last minute super easy production job at the end of the ceremonial start. I was planning on going to the start anyway, so I agreed, and instead of going to the start, where there's TONS of crowds, I drove out to the END of the start, near Far North Bicentennial Park. It ended up being so much fun. For one, there's a LOT less crowds there, and I had a press pass so was able to get into the musher area and hang out there. And as a total coincidence, I got there at the exact moment my friend Zoya DeNure (Bib 5) was coming in, and she needed her handler to jump off her second sled to guide her dogs in, so she asked me to jump onto her second sled, which of course, I happily did! In the third picture down, I have taken the place of her handler and am riding the second sled! It was sort of surreal to be riding on the runners of an Iditarod sled! Well, it was her handler's sled, which comes off tomorrow, but still it was really exciting! I also got to chat with some of my favorite mushers (many Iditarod mushers also run the Yukon Quest, which I handled for a few years ago) and take a few pics. The official timed start is tomorrow morning in Willow. Zoya is the "model-turned-musher" who I've handled for during the Copper Basin 300, as well as taking care of her pups at her and her husband John's kennel in Paxson and at their place at Maclaren on the Denali Highway last fall. Her website is www.dogsleddenali.blogspot.com if you want to follow her progress. This is her second Iditarod, she took off last year to have a baby. Zoya and John rescue and rehabilitate discarded shelter dogs and are showing that you can win races with rescue dogs. Go Zoya!