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Iditarod Snow Is Low: Event Organizers Eyeing Changes to Race Start

Image: Iditarod Snow Is Low: Event Organizers Eyeing Changes to Race Start
Four-time Iditarod Champion and 2006 winner Jeff King mushes his sled dog team over frozen Willow Lake as Iditarod XXXV official begins 04 March 2007 in Willow, Alaska. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 12 Feb 2016 08:31 AM

The Iditarod sled dog race is contending with low snow this year, and may have to shift its starting point.

"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 CEO Stan Hooley told The Associated Press on Wednesday. 

"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."

The traditional ceremonial commencement point of the nearly thousand-mile race is Anchorage, where mushers and their sled dogs take slow rides through town for gathered fans and well-wishers.

The actual starting line for the race itself is typically set up in Willow, about 75 miles north of Anchorage, but last year low snow prompted officials to move it even further north, to Fairbanks.

Overall, Anchorage itself has gotten roughly two-thirds of its typical snowfall both last and this year.

"Through Feb. 10, Anchorage has recorded 25.8 inches of snowfall for the season, which is less than half of its average season-to-date expected snowfall of 53.5 inches," said Weather.com meteorologist Linda Lam. "September and November were snowy, but then the city set a record for the least amount of snowfall for the Dec. 1 through Jan. 31 period." 

"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," she added.

Event organizers are worried that the ceremonial part of the race in Anchorage could impact its fundraising, as many fans — known as "Iditariders" — come from around the world to donate and fundraise money in order to participate in sled rides and festivities.

"Those folks (Iditariders) are our very best goodwill ambassadors, because when they go back to their own little corners of the world, they do it with smiles on their faces and talk a lot about that experience. So we need to continue to nurture that program," said Hooley.

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The Iditarod sled dog race is contending with low snow this year, and may have to shift its starting point.
iditarod, snow, race, start, change
332
2016-31-12
Friday, 12 Feb 2016 08:31 AM
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