And they’re off! Well, almost. The 45th annual Iditarod sled dog race had its ceremonial kick off in Anchorage, Alaska on Saturday March 4th. The announcer counted down as fans cheered on the trained and eager pups. But the actual race begins on Monday from Fairbanks.
So, why was the ceremonial start in Anchorage while the race starts in Fairbanks? Well according to the Iditarod Insider, the traditional starting point, near Anchorage in Willow, Alaska, does not have the ideal trail conditions for this season’s snowy race. They noted that this is the third time in race history that trail conditions are too poor, prompting the Fairbanks start.
“While some snow did fall east of the Alaska Range over the past couple of weeks, other critical areas along the trail received little snowfall, if any at all, including the trail into Rainy Pass. Additionally, trail conditions leading up to both Ptarmigan Pass and Dalzell Gorge are still considered unsafe at this time for the teams participating in this year’s race.” Iditarod Trail Committee Race Director Mark Nordman said.
On the day of the race 73 mushers (or teams) will start their 998-mile trek across the tundra. And talking about Arctic, the high temperature in Fairbanks will be only -5 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday!
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Alex O’Brien