The lack of snow in the Alaska Range has persuaded the Iditarod Trail Committee to move the race start to Fairbanks. After a flyover, mushers say the Dalzell Gorge is impassable and the Farewell Burn area is, again, completely bare.
The race started in Fairbanks in 2003, for weather reasons. For Interior musher Aliy Zirkle, the move is somewhat welcome news, from a competitive standpoint.
“It’s too bad, because the Iditarod is the Iditarod and I like the traditional route, just like I like the traditional Yukon Quest Route,” Zirkle said. “But, in the same sense, it’s actually ‘easier’ for us as a kennel because our dogs and I can sleep in our own beds the night before the race.”
The Iditarod’s ceremonial start will still take place in Anchorage. Mushers will then truck their dogs to Fairbanks for a restart on March 9.
The race route will travel west to Nenana, and then head north to Manley before they pick up the northern route near Galena – a trail the race usually follows in even numbered years. Dog teams will also make stops in Huslia and Koyukuk this year.