Al Grillo, Associated Press
FILE - This March 3, 2003, shows Gerald Riley of Nenana, Alaska, driving his team down the Chena River in Fairbanks, Alaska, Monday March 3, 2003, past the Discovery paddle wheel boat. While the ceremonial start of the 2017 race will be held in Anchorage, Alaska, as normal on March 4, 2017, low snow conditions in the Alaska Range have forced the start of the race to Fairbanks for the third time.The 2003 and 2015 competitive starts also were held in Fairbanks.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The world's most famous sled dog race has started, with mushers leaving Fairbanks, Alaska, and embarking on a nearly 1,000-mile trek across the wilderness.

Ryan Redington of Wasilla, Alaska, was the first competitor in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on the trail Monday. The race has a staggered start, with a musher leaving every two minutes.

The start was moved to Fairbanks from the Anchorage area to avoid a lack of snow in the Alaska Range, a span of mountains that includes Denali.

Winter conditions weren't a concern in Fairbanks, where the temperature was minus 35 degrees Monday morning.

One musher, Hungarian rookie Otto Balogh, scratched two hours before the start, citing health concerns.

The winner is expected in the old Gold Rush town of Nome, on the Bering Sea coast, in about eight days.