For the second time in its history, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will begin in Fairbanks, though race officials still plan to hold the ceremonial start in Anchorage. Last night, the Iditarod Trail Committee’s board of directors voted unanimously to move the start of the race from Willow.
Stan Hooley, CEO of the Iditarod Trail Committee, says the decision was made after board members observed potentially dangerous areas on the trail by helicopter.
Last year, poor snow conditions led to broken sleds and injured mushers. Aaron Burmeister, who sits on the Iditarod Trail Committee board, was one of those injured in the 2014 race.
Stan Hooley says the overall length of the 2015 Iditarod will be about nineteen miles shorter than usual as a result of the changes, but that won’t necessarily make it easier on mushers and dogs.
“The first part of this race will see longer distances between checkpoints than the traditional route sees,” Hooley said.
Hooley says while mushers would generally prefer to race on the traditional Iditarod Trail, those he’s spoken to accept the change.