The 2021 Iditarod sled dog race is still on, but will end in Willow

Wade Marrs mushing into the Cripple checkpoint during the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (Zachariah Hughes/Alaska Public Media)

The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is still on, but teams are no longer headed on a 1,000-mile trail to Nome.

Iditarod officials announced Friday that mushers and their sled dogs will instead travel on a roughly 860-mile loop that starts and ends in Willow. Their turn-around spot will be near the mining ghost town of Flat.

The revised race route is among a list of changes to the event triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, race officials say.

A map shows the new race route for the 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. A red line snakes from Anchroage to around Iditarod and back.
The red line shows the approximate route for the 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Race officials say the trail will start and end in Willow, near Wasilla. (Courtesy of Iditarod.com)

All mushers must also test negative for the coronavirus before the race begins, and they will be tested again along the trail. Face masks and social distancing will be required at checkpoints, according to the race’s plan.

The Iditarod ceremonial start is scheduled for March 6 in Anchorage, with a restart in Willow the next day. Race officials say they’ll have more details on the exact location of the restart and finish soon.

There are 57 teams signed up to compete, including recent champions Pete Kaiser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Dallas Seavey.

RELATED: While the coronavirus sidelines other sports, the Iditarod mushes on

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