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The Iditarod 2022

The 50th running of the Last Great Race gets its ceremonial start this Saturday in downtown Anchorage. Mushers will then officially get the race going on Sunday from the town of Willow. The Iditarod Sled Dog Race runs annually in March and commemorates the Serum Run of 1925.

The race is mostly back to normal in 2022, with the trail following the northern route, which happens in even numbered years. All mushers must be vaccinated and will be tested during the race. All officials and volunteers must take daily tests until the race ends.

One musher, Nicolas Petit, recently tested positive for Covid-19, and had to scratch from the race. Four-time Iditarod champ, Jeff King, will run his dogs in his place. The 66 year old King last won in 2006.

49 mushers will race across the 49th State, including 13 rookies.

Map of the Iditarod Trail

Map and image credit: The Iditarod Sled Dog Race

March in Alaska

The Nenana Ice Classic:

Visiting the village of Nenana this past summer

The Nenana Ice Classic tripod was raised on the Tanana River this past weekend. The Ice Classic is our annual event, where residents and visitors can guess when the ice goes out on the Tanana. This is the 104th year of the event. Tickets are $2.50 per guess. The ice thickness as of Sunday was 44-1/2″.

The 2021 tripod is in place.

The 2021 Iditarod:

The 2021 Iditarod Trail map

The Last Great Race is seeing a lot of changes for Covid-2021. The race will not end at Nome this year, due to Covid concerns. In fact, to protect villagers, mushers will not be venturing into communities like in a normal year. Due to the new route, which is now an 850 mile long loop, teams will race to the ghost town of Flat, and return to Willow.

The Iditarod Start at Willow, Alaska; Photo credit: ADN/Marc Lester

There was no ceremonial start in Anchorage this year. The 46 mushers and their teams went directly to Willow for the Sunday morning start time. Press accounts have the crowd at starting line at 300 visitors, mostly family and dog handlers. In a normal year, there would be at least 6000 cheering the teams on.

Sockeye Fire

The setting sun is partially obscured by smoke from an out of control wildfire on the Parks Highway near Willow, Alaska, in this picture courtesy of Mat-Su Borough taken June 14, 2015.  REUTERS/Mat-Su Borough/Stefan Hinman/Handout

Photo credit: REUTERS/Mat-Su Borough/Stefan Hinman/Handout June 14, 2015

We’ve had a couple of tundra fires so far this season, but with the lack of snow this past winter, it was only a matter of time for one to take off near a community.

Cue the Sockeye Fire near Willow, AK. Willow is just north of Anchorage, and as the official start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, it is the heart of mushing country.

Approximately 7000 acres has burned, along with at least 45 homes and another 20 structures. An estimated 250 people and over 500 sled dogs have been evacuated from the area, with the wildfire now raging on both sides of the Parks Highway. 1700 homes are under a voluntary evacuation ahead of the fire.

As of Monday afternoon, Alaska officials stated that 0% of the fire has been contained. They also confirmed that the fire was ignited by human activity, although the specific cause has not been released.