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CNN Today

`Last Great Race on Earth' to Begin Tomorrow in Alaska

Aired March 2, 2001 - 4:24 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Sixty-eight mushers are expected and, more importantly, their dogs are expected to line up in Anchorage, Alaska tomorrow at the start of the annual Iditarod sled-dog race. The course winds its way through the wilderness for 1,100 miles and finishes up, of course, in Nome.

Joining us at the starting line is CNN's Lilian Kim -- Lilian.

LILIAN KIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Joie. It's a grueling test of endurance, and there's no better dog that can handle it than the Alaskan husky. The dogs are the stars of the Iditarod -- a competition that has earned the title "the last great race on earth."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good dogs. Yes, good dogs.

KIM (voice-over): He's won the Iditarod three times, but Martin Buser is hungry for more: The 42-year old musher is gearing up for this year's race, a race that stands nearly 1,100 miles in the Alaskan wilderness.

MARTIN BUSER, MUSHER: It's the magic carpet ride. I think it's being able to glide at 10 to 14 miles an hour silently across the landscape in sometimes almost untouched wilderness. That, I think, is the infatuation that we have.

KIM: Mushers know the Iditarod is largely about strategy. When you run and when you rest dictate whether you win or lose. But physical endurance is also key. When they're not sledding, mushers must care for and feed their dogs, which leaves them about two hours of sleep a night.

Andy Moderow will test his endurance on the Iditarod trail for the first time. At 18 years of age, this rookie is not out to win, but to learn.

ANDY MODEROW, MUSHER: It's great fun to see the big teams run by and, you know, watch them pass you as you're going, wow, I'm going slow -- and to experience them and watch them.

KIM: As for Buser, this year's race will be his 18th: another chance to capture sled dog racing's top prize. BUSER: It's sort of like winning the Kentucky Derby. It's winning the Super Bowl, or, you know, winning the Indy 500. That the Iditarod is the big event.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KIM: Sixty-eight men and women will start here in Anchorage tomorrow, but not every team is expected to reach the finish line in Nome. Anything can happen in those nine to 15 days that it usually takes to complete this race.

Reporting live from Anchorage, Alaska, I'm Lilian Kim.

Joie, back to you.

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