This will be Kristy's 8th appearance in the Iditarod and Anna's 6th. On February 10th, the Iditarod Trail Committee announced that, due to lack of snow in critical parts of the Alaska range, the trail would be re-routed for the 3rd time in the race's history to run from Fairbanks to Nome. The Ceremonial Start will still run out of downtown Anchorage on Saturday, March 4th, but mushers will then drive the 350 miles or so with their teams and gear up to Fairbanks for a re-start Monday, March 6th. The overall mileage for this alternate route, as well as the mileage between the 17 official checkpoints from Fairbanks to Nome, is not materially different from the traditional southern route that would have been run had Mother Nature been more cooperative.
But apparently there is a ton of snow in and around Anchorage, so the Ceremonial start will be far more enjoyable for all involved, especially since the last time the re-route took place in 2015... that year, there was standing water in the gutters. And Fairbanks usually does winter thoroughly ~ I say 'usually' because in 2015, mild conditions there eliminated the possibility of holding the restart on the not-so-frozen Chena River. This year, at least at this point, conditions in both places are much more promising.
As far as mushers are concerned, here are the stats as of this writing:
Total Entrants: 72 (after 11 previously withdrawn; 55 race veterans / 17 rookies)
Men: 55 (40 race veterans / 15 rookies)
Women: 17 (15 race veterans / 2 rookies)
Countries represented: 8 (Canada, Czech Republic, England, France, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, USA)
USA states: 7 (Alaska, Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York)
Number of Dogs of the Start: 1,152 (assuming 72 mushers with a full compliment of 16 dogs each)
2017 Purse: U$750,000 to be shared among the top 30.
Mushers finishing 31st and higher are paid U$1,049.
The total number of entrants in this year's Iditarod is lower than last year, both overall and in the ratio of female to male mushers. For reference, recall Dallas Seavey holds the current record for fastest time for his 2016 finish after 8 days and 11 hours. He also won the 2015 race from Fairbanks to Nome after 8 days and 18 hours on the trail. Look for this year's race to also last between 8 for a winner and 14 days for the red lantern.
Here are a couple of options for race maps, one that Seeing Double crafted (with help from ADN.com) and one provided by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. For later in the race, remember there are quick links in the sidebar to Iditarod HQ and the trail map.
All mushers finished their drop bags by February 16th. For any new reader, drop bags are filled with food and supplies for each musher and his or her dogs and shipped in advance to most checkpoints along the trail (excluding Yentna and Finger Lake).
The banquet, where mushers will draw their 2-minute interval starting positions, is Thursday night, March 2nd. We'll keep you posted here and on Instagram as soon as the twins get their bib numbers. My fingers are crossed that their identical twin mojo will have them fairly close together, but not so close that yours truly has to do a great deal of sprinting to see them both off from staging area to starting line!
Looking for more fodder on Anna and Kristy until then? Check out this cool article and video from KTUU Channel 2 in Alaska to see an artistically inspired take on the twins.
Thanks again for joining us for the 2017 Iditarod! Let the racing begin.