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BACK TO FAIRBANKS – Michelle Phillips makes her way through Anchorage, Alaska during the ceremonial start of the 2015 Iditarod Sled Dog Race in Anchorage. Photo by BOB HALLINEN/ ALASKA DISPATCH NEWS

Location of Iditarod’s official start changed

The official start location of the Iditarod has been changed this year,

By Marissa Tiel on February 13, 2017

The official start location of the Iditarod has been changed this year, the Iditarod Trail Committee board of directors announced last week.

On Feb. 10, they voted unanimously to change the re-start location to Fairbanks, from Willow, Alaska.

The decision was due to poor conditions in the Alaska Range this year.

The ceremonial start will take place as planned at 10 a.m. in downtown Anchorage on March 4.

The re-start will take place two days later in Fairbanks, on March 6 at 10 a.m.

This marks the third time in Iditarod’s history that the re-start location has been moved due to poor conditions in the Alaska Range.

The race was moved in 2003 and 2015.

“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.

In 2014, low snow in Dalzell Gorge led to injured mushers and broken sleds.

“That was the most dangerous thing I've ever done,” Jessie Royer, an Iditarod veteran from Montana told Alaska Dispatch News as she came into a checkpoint. “I’ve never prayed so hard in my life.”

This year the race will follow the route it has before from Fairbanks, travelling through Nenana, Manley Hot Springs, Tanana, Ruby, Galena, Huslia, Koyukuk, Nulato, Kaltag, Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Safety before finishing in Nome, ADN reported.

There are only two Yukoners competing in the 2017 Iditarod. Michelle Phillips and Hans Gatt will run their teams in the 1,600-kilometre race.

Other familiar faces from this year’s Yukon Quest include Laura Neese, Brent Sass, Allen Moore, Katherine Keith, Jessie Royer, Ed Stielstra and Hugh Neff.

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