ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Gray News) - On Sunday, 47 sled dog teams will hit the Iditarod Trail in a race that will look a little different this year.
The Iditarod, no stranger to route adjustments due to issues like weather, will instead do a loop, out-and-back across the Alaska Range instead of heading toward Nome, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be no ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage, and the “restart” as it’s usually called, will be the race start, with organizers asking fans to stay home.
“I think we all need this race,” said Iditarod race marshal Mark Nordman. “I think everybody needs to get back to something that normally happens in March and this is the big event of the year for the state of Alaska.”
The 49th Iditarod race is expected to total 852 miles on what officials are calling the Gold Trail Loop.
It includes 13 women and 34 men, made up of 12 rookies and 35 veterans, organizers said in a news release. Four former Iditarod champions are in the race and four countries are represented.
Five competing mushers have participated in 18 or more Iditarod races.
“The Iditarod looks forward to its 50th anniversary event in Anchorage to be held Saturday, March 5, 2022,” said Iditarod CEO Rob Urbach in a statement. “For now, it’s up to all Alaskans to come together and embrace the spirit of the 20 mushers who travelled the Iditarod Trail to Nome in 1925 to deliver the precious life-saving diphtheria serum.”