Dawson City, YK - The Iditarod Trail Committee’s board of directors decided Tuesday to relocate the start of this year’s 1000 mile sled dog race from Willow north to Fairbanks citing lack of snow and trail conditions that mimic the rough-and-tumble route mushers followed last year.
Two Rivers musher Aliy Zirkle says she’s not surprised by the decision. “It’s too bad because the Iditarod is the Iditarod and I like the traditional route," Zirkle said. "But at the same time, it’s actually easier for us as a kennel, because our dogs and I can sleep in our own beds the night before the race," she said.
Zirkle was waiting for husband Allen Moore to arrive in Dawson City, the half point along the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race trail when she heard the news.
“You know, I’m sure the board of directors and the race marshal and everyone thought long and hard about it because I know they want to keep a traditional route," she said, "but obviously it’s not going to happen. it doesn’t bother me either way. I’m up for a new adventure," said Zirkle. "I kind of hope it’s not 45 or 55 below, check that one off the list for the Yukon Quest.”
The race’s ceremonial start will still take place in Anchorage on Saturday, February 7th. Mushers will then truck their dogs to Fairbanks for a restart on March 9th.
The race route will travel west to Nenana, and then head north to Manley before they pick up the northern route near Galena – a trail the race usually follows in even numbered years. Dog teams will also make stops in Huslia and Koyukuk this year
The Iditarod Trail Committee last relocated the race in 2003.