The ceremonial start of the 34th annual (XXXIV) Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across the U.S. state of Alaska began amidst the crowds of Anchorage on March 4, 2006, and the start of the competitive race, or "restart", began the next day in Willow. The race followed a modified version of the northern route for 1,151 mi (1,852 km) across the Alaska Range, through the sparsely inhabited Interior, along the Yukon River, and then up the coast of the Bering Sea to the city of Nome. Unlike in previous years, where the teams had to deal with unseasonably warm temperatures and soft, mushy snow, the weather was cold, with temperatures reported as low as −40 °F (−40 °C).
Eighty three competitors started the race, and as of March 18, eleven have "scratched", and one has been withdrawn from the race. The field of racers was extremely competitive, with pundits like Cabela's John Little listing more than half a dozen possible winners. The ultimate winner was Jeff King, who crossed under the "burled arch" on March 15, becoming one of the few four-time champions. Fellow four-time winner Doug Swingley of Montana came in 2nd place, followed by Paul Gebhardt. Each of the 83 teams was composed of 16 dogs, four of whom died during the event.
Note: All times are Alaska Standard Time/AKST (UTC-9).