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

Homer’s Bergen Knutson (left) and Toby Nevak (right) try to fend off Dimond’s Kaden Daniels during a Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 game at the 2020 ASAA First National Cup Division I Hockey State Championship at the Curtis D. Menard Memorial Sports Center in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Megan Pacer/Homer News)
Middle, high school sports resume

Middle and high school sport programs started back up this week as… Continue reading

Fletcher runs through the snow on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, on Diamond Ridge near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
Out of the Office: How all the dogs in my life have kept me sane and happy

I have written before about the virtues of big, rowdy dogs in… Continue reading

Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS 
Biological intern Annaleese Rasanen surveys severely burned alpine shrub tundra within the Swan Lake Fire burn July 27, 2020.
Refuge Notebook: A refuge manager’s perspective on 2020

A friend and colleague recently sent me a list of “things to… Continue reading

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

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Officials with the scaled-back Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race… Continue reading

Kenai River Brown Bears forward Max Helgeson chases the puck along the boards against the Fairbanks Ice Dogs on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Brown Bears lose in return to ice

The Kenai River Brown Bears returned to action Saturday for the first… Continue reading

My makeshift Christmas tree only had a few ornaments this year, but brought a lot of joy. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
Tangled Up in Blue: Happy Holidays

I just wrapped up celebrating Christmas 2020, a holiday marked by familial… Continue reading

The author looks across Eklutna Lake on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 near Eagle River, Alaska. (Photo by Tim Rockey)
Out of the Office: Good riddance

When I first saw my turn in the rotating schedule for writing… Continue reading

From left to right, Reid Rauch, Ellis Lorentz, Sawyer Johnson, Wylder Johnson, Selma Johnson, Renn Lorentz and Che Lorentz celebrate at the Ski Your Age event held Dec. 26, 2020 at the Lookout Mountain Trails near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Lila Johnson)
Young, old turn out for Ski Your Age

Each year, a number of outdoor enthusiasts take to the snow to… Continue reading

Bottenintnin Lake, seen on Nov. 24, 2020 near Sterling, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Out of the Office: More questions than answers

The only place life makes sense anymore is the outdoors. How do… Continue reading

Most Read