Thousands of people lined Fourth Avenue in downtown and along the 11-mile route to Campbell Airstrip on Saturday to bid a record 96 Iditarod mushers farewell for their formidable winter journey across the wildest reaches of Alaska.
With a biting 20 mph wind coming off Cook Inlet and funneling into the snowy alleyways, hundreds packed close together at the start line on the corner of Fourth and D Street, well protected from the wind.
But those who braved the below-zero wind chill, strolling the side streets that connect to Fourth Avenue and other wind-ravished sections, gave spectators a feel of what mushers will surely face on the 1,100-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
"This should be an adventure," 64-year-old rookie Gene Smith of Omak, Wash., said.
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