The ceremonial start to the Iditarod Sled Dog Race took place in an extremely slushy and very brown Anchorage today. Snow had to be trucked into town and a slim trail formed on Fourth Avenue for the 78 mushers and their teams, who attempted to get to Wasilla. The temperature was above freezing for the start, and quickly rose to 40 debs. One Canadian musher, Brian Wilmshurst, decided to head out in shorts. That’s the right attitude!
Mushers will now load up into their trucks and drive the 360 miles to Fairbanks for the official restart on Monday. We do have more snow, and we received a welcomed snowfall this weekend, but even the Fairbanks start has it’s warm-weather related challenges. In 2003, the last time Fairbanks held the start for The Last Great Race, the teams left for Nome from the Chena River just downstream from downtown. The thin river ice in 2015 will have the mushers take off from the road system heading overland.
The total purse for this year’s Iditarod is $725,100 with the winner of the race getting $70,000, before dog food.