Lacking snow, a short ceremonial start to Iditarod 44

Jason Campeau's team getting ready to head to the starting line of 4th Avenue in Anchorage. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, APM
Jason Campeau’s team getting ready to head to the starting line of 4th Avenue in Anchorage. Photo: Zachariah Hughes, APM

The 44th Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race kicked off with the ceremonial start to the race in downtown Anchorage Saturday.

At 85 mushers, it’s one of the largest fields the race has ever seen.

This year, race officials had to shorten the traditional 11 mile course to just three miles out of safety concerns stemming from a lack of snow within town. The Alaska Railroad donated the freighting costs to move more than 300 cubic yards of snow from Fairbanks to the streets of Anchorage.

The Municipality of Anchorage also strategically stockpiles snow throughout winter to aid in Iditarod efforts every March.

On Friday night, with street closures throughout the truncated trail, dump trucks unloaded large mounds along the route towards Mulcahy stadium.

Snow conditions along the festive streets Saturday morning were decent, with temperatures hovering in the 20s keeping the slush at bay.

The official restart is in Willow on Sunday, with the first musher scheduled to leave at 2 p.m.

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