The Iditarod Trail Committee announced Monday it has dropped the COVID vaccine requirement for musher participation in its 2023 race.
The decision covers not only mushers but staff and volunteers as well. In a statement, the Iditarod said it still recommends vaccinations for the race community, and is still evaluating COVID testing protocols for the 2023 race, set to start March 4.
“In 2021 and 2022 we spent considerable time and resources on testing protocols with the help of the State of Alaska, Dr. Jodie Guest, the Capstone Clinic and CUE Health and will continue to include them in future discussions,” the ITC said in a release.
Vaccines were required for the 2022 race.
In 2021, to mitigate the spread of COVID, the race committee rerouted the finish from its traditional location in Nome to Deshka Landing near Willow Lake. The race also staged checkpoints outside of communities or put them in designated areas to limit the risk of exposure.
Currently, 26 mushers are signed up for the 2023 Iditarod, with the deadline for registration just more than a month away on Nov. 30.
In 2022, 49 mushers started the race, and in 2021, 46 ran. As many as 100 dog teams can run in the race, and in the past decade more than 75 mushers have started regularly.