Defending champion Joar Lefseth Ulsom runs his team down Fourth Ave during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday, March 2, 2019 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

Defending champion Joar Lefseth Ulsom runs his team down Fourth Ave during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race Saturday, March 2, 2019 in Anchorage, Alaska. (AP Photo/Michael Dinneen)

Start location changed for scaled-back Iditarod

  • Wednesday, January 6, 2021 2:30am
  • Sports

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Officials with the scaled-back Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on Tuesday announced another change for the 2021 competition.

The world’s most famous sled dog race will start and end from Deshka Landing, a year-round access point to nearby rivers about 7 miles (11 kilometers) away from the normal starting location in the Alaska community of Willow.

Construction at the community center in Willow forced the move.

Officials announced last month that the race, which is normally about 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers), has been shortened to 860 miles (1,384 kilometers) and will not end as normal on the Bering Sea coast in Nome because of pandemic concerns.

Instead, the race will start March 7 at Deshka Landing. Mushers and their teams will travel to the ghost town of Flat and then loop back to Deshka Landing.

Other changes have been implemented because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Every musher must test negative for the coronavirus before the race begins. They will also be tested again during the race. Facial coverings and social distancing will be mandated at checkpoints, according to race officials.

Ten mushers, including defending champion Thomas Waerner of Norway, have dropped out of this year’s race, leaving 54 teams in the race.

That’s among the three smallest fields in the last two decades, and all in the last three years. Last year, 57 teams started the race and 33 finished. In 2019, 52 teams began the race.

Planning to participate this year are four former champions, including Dallas Seavey, Martin Buser, Pete Kaiser and Joar Leifseth Ulsom.

Anchorage typically hosts the ceremonial start day before the competitive start.

“The Iditarod is working with the Municipality of Anchorage regarding the ceremonial start and will provide updates as they arise,” according to a statement emailed Tuesday to The Associated Press from the Iditarod.

More in Sports

Anthony Botello fishes for halibut off the coast of Homer, Alaska, on Sept. 6, 2021. (Camille Botello)
Out of the Office: Fish on!

I was pretty spoiled as a kid. The chest freezer in our… Continue reading

The Kenai Central High School women’s cross country team finishes in second place with 58 points at Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Alaska on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Boonstra repeats as Division II champ

Kenai Central’s Jayna Boonstra raced her way to another Division II state… Continue reading

Sports in brief

Volleyball Upcoming meets: TBA Thursday, Oct. 14: Varsity Volleyball at Juneau Tourney… Continue reading

Olympic gold medalist Lydia Jacoby waves to the crowd in Seward during her celebratory parade on Thursday, August 5, 2021. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Jacoby nabs two 2nds at World Cup

Lydia Jacoby, a 17-year-old senior at Seward High School, finished second in… Continue reading

Homer, Soldotna notch volleyball wins

The host Homer volleyball notched a 3-0 Southcentral Conference victory over Nikiski… Continue reading

Nikiski's Savanna Stock receives serve against Anchorage Christian Schools on Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, at Nikiski High School in Nikiski, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Volleyball roundup: Homer beats GC and ACS

Homer 3, Grace Christian 0 The host Mariners quickly rebounded from their… Continue reading

Sports in brief

Cross Country Upcoming meets: Noon Saturday, Oct. 9: Cross Country at State… Continue reading

Kenai Central's Brooke Ashley and Homer's Nevaeh Diaz tangle at the net at Kenai Central High School on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, at Kenai Central High School. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai, Seward get 5-set wins

The host Kenai Central volleyball team pulled off a massive comeback to… Continue reading

Author Kathleen Sorensen (252) and the rest of the field take off from the starting line at the Kenai River Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Tangled Up in Blue: Three halves

I ran my third Kenai River Half Marathon this weekend. I remember… Continue reading

Most Read