Iditarod Sled Dog Race could be hurt by lack of snow “Details”

Updated: February 13, 2016
Iditarod Sled Dog Race could be hurt by lack of snow - Details

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins with a fan-friendly slow jaunt through Anchorage, but another low snow year in Alaska is playing havoc with the start of the nearly-thousand mile race.

“The overall pattern for December and January featured an upper-level area of low pressure south of Alaska. This pattern tends not to bring low pressure systems into Alaska, thus reducing the amount of snowfall. This comes after the least snowiest season on record last year when only 25.1 inches of snow fell from July 2014 to June 2015,” said Lam.

Called the “Last Great Race on Earth,” the Iditarod trail covers 1,000 miles of terrain and tosses jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest and desolate tundra at the mushers and their team of dogs, according to the race’s official website. In addition to those factors, freezing temperatures and biting winds stand between the racers and the finish line.

Last year, a lack of snow north of the city forced the race from its usual start point in Willow further north into Fairbanks, the Associated Press reports.

“Our real challenge right now is trying to figure out whether we’ve got adequate snow to make Anchorage and the ceremonial start happen,” Iditarod chief executive officer Stan Hooley told AP. “We’re pretty confident in where we’re going to officially start the race. In terms of that all-important ceremonial start, we’ve got some work to do.”

This will be the 44th edition of the race, which ends in Nome. The ceremonial start has always taken place in Anchorage, which won’t change, but Hooley says he’s not yet sure how it might look, AP also reports.

The ceremonial start to the race consists of a slow run through Anchorage’s streets and trails the day before the competitive portion of the race. An important factor of this event is that fans across the world take part in an auction in which the winners, called Iditariders, get to ride along with the mushers through the streets, according to the race’s site. For the past few years, the auction has brought in more than $200,000 for the Iditarod.

Hooley says there’s plenty of snow outside of Willow and he’s pretty sure that this is where the race will have its official start on March 6. The race’s board of directors will decide the official start location, which will be either Willow or Fairbanks.