Presented by Snapped
The team of dogs strained against their harnesses, eyes wild, their sights fixed down Fourth Avenue.
The street was lined with spectators, and the air over Downtown Anchorage was filled with the pungent straw smell of the dog trucks and the howls of the teams preparing to take off from the ceremonial start of the 2012 Iditarod.
Albert Marquez knelt in the snow along the trail and photographed the dogs as they ran by: tongues lolling, ears stretched back, bootie-wrapped feet kicking up powder as they flew by.
A veteran race photographer and owner of the Anchorage-based tour company Planet Earth Adventures, Marquez has documented both the Last Great Race on Earth and the 1,000-mile Yukon Quest for 14 years now. For almost a decade and a half, he’s seen the handlers struggle to hold back their teams at the starting line, heard the frenzied bays of the dogs waiting to hit the trail, and watched them disappear down the chute when the starting gun went off.
And every year, he said, he aims to capture the same thing.
“I am a dog lover, and I like to catch the excitement of the dogs as they start the race. Many people in the Lower 48 think that it is inhumane and cruel to put an animal through a race like the Iditarod; I try to capture the enthusiasm of the dogs and the excitement.”
The race day enthusiasm is so infectious, he custom printed his bank card with the smiling photo of the dogs running down the trail during the 2012 Iditarod ceremonial start, and he said the picture garners comments wherever he goes.
“It is only when you can see the excitement of these dogs that you can understand why they like to run,” he said. “Nobody can tell you unless you see it for yourself.”