Alaska News

Iditarod weighs Fairbanks restart

Organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race are considering the possibility that the race's official restart, ordinarily held in Willow, may need to move north.

Currently, there are no plans to move the restart, scheduled for Sunday, March 2 beginning at 2 p.m., but depending on how conditions look over the next week or so, that may change.

"We do have trail concerns, particularly from the top of Rainy Pass to Nikolai," Diane Johnson wrote in a planning update on the race's website. If trail conditions are "not deemed acceptable" by Feb. 17, the Iditarod Trail Committee may opt to move the restart to the Interior city of Fairbanks, to be held on Monday, March 3 at a time to be determined.

Warm winter weather caused Fairbanks' own 1,000-mile marquee sled dog race to make last-minute adjustments this year; due to Chena River ice conditions, the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race started in downtown Fairbanks rather than on the river, and it will finish in Takhini Hot Springs, Yukon Territory, rather than Whitehorse.

The race's official restart has been held in Willow each year since 2008, when it moved from the traditional restart site at the Iditarod Trail Committee headquarters in Wasilla. The ceremonial restart has been moved north to Fairbanks on one prior occasion, in 2003, when warm weather led to "rapidly deteriorating trail conditions in Southcentral Alaska," the Associated Press reported at the time.

At this time, the Iditarod does not appear poised to make any changes to the ceremonial start, scheduled for Saturday, March 1 in downtown Anchorage.

Contact Maia Nolan-Partnow at maia@alaskadispatch.com.

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