Dog sled racers making their way across Alaska for 43 annual Iditarod

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher Mitch Seavey begins his race to Nome amongst a crowd of spectators Sunday, March 6, 2016 in Willow, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

Furry paws and a sleds trails opened the 43rd annual Iditarod this week in Alaska.

Known as the "Last Great Race," this year over 80 contestants are attempting to make their way through 1,000 miles of Alaskan backcountry.

Prize money varies depending on the number of sponsors in a given year, but contestants are known to spend anywhere between $10,000-$80,000 in registration fees, equipment and food for their dogs.

The fastest time ever in the Iditarod race came in 2014 when three-time winner Dallas Seavey completed the race in 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes and 19 seconds.

As of Friday, 36-year-old Minnesota native Brent Sass was in the lead. He was the first musher to leave the checkpoint in Ruby, Alaska.

The winner is expected to arrive in Nome early next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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