Under a sun-drenched sky, a moment months in the making has finally arrived-- the official start of the Iditarod.

After an unprecedented offseason of discontent, which included a dog
doping scandal involving the sport's biggest star, the 46th running of
the Last Great Race is back to its customary launching pad of Willow.

For nearly five months, the toughest sled dog race on the planet has taken
a pounding for waiting to release Dallas Seavey's name after his dogs tested
positive for tramadol following last year's race. A power struggle amidst
board has developed. There was also a scathing independent report warning
that the race's health and future were vulnerable if it did not make changes to the way it communicates with each other and its mushers.

But on Sunday, to the delight of 67 mushers, the focus was on prepping
their teams for what is still considered one of the iconic journeys in
all of sport.

"We're all here for love of the dogs, spectators too and it's just really
cool to feel all the spectators' support," said veteran musher Linwood
Fiedler in the dog lot before the race.

Was the drama a distraction?

"I think, it was for me, a little bit earlier and then at some point I
felt like I needed to train my team if I was going to get to Nome I'd
better get to business and work with my dogs."

There are sure to be more fixes this offseason. Changes to the board
could come. Perhaps, the implementation and handling of the entire process
of the drug testing system will be addressed.

But today, all seemed right. It was about a race and its direction was
very clear-- the trail leads to Nome.

Perhaps Mother Nature was sending a signal.

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