The checkpoint of Shaktoolik has been awarded the Iditarod’s Golden Clipboard Award for the 2020 race, a distinguished recognition voted on by the Iditarod Official Finishers Club. Shaktoolik was chosen for its residents’ incredible commitment to providing mushers the best checkpoint accommodations possible in light of restrictions and concerns over COVID-19.
Out of precaution and guidance from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control and the State of Alaska, the community of Shaktoolik, in agreement with Iditarod officials, moved the traditional race checkpoint within the community to the site of Old Shaktoolik. With less than two days before mushers arrived, residents banded together to dig out an old building to accommodate the race teams and essential race personnel. The residents of Shaktoolik made sure this alternative location still had all the necessities the teams would need including food drop bags, HEET to make a hot meal, clotheslines to dry out their gear and plenty of straw bedding for the dogs.
Shaktoolik is the last checkpoint before a stretch of flat, frozen ground that takes mushers over the sea ice of Norton Bay. That portion of the trail is anything but easy, as teams often face coastal storms that can make staying on course difficult. The community knows the importance its checkpoint holds and takes great pride in accommodating race teams, volunteers and race personnel before the next stretch of the trail.
“This year all of our communities stepped up to make sure the mushers had a comfortable landing spot as they made their way to Nome,” said Mark Nordman, Iditarod race director and marshal. “The IOFC vote shows that the mushers appreciated Shaktoolik’s efforts to go above and beyond for the race teams. Our teams and volunteers will be forever grateful.”
Video of Shaktoolik residents working to create the new checkpoint was shared on the Iditarod’s Facebook page and can be found here: https://bit.ly/34Wgm3T. The Golden Clipboard Award will be presented to Shaktoolik at a later date.
Photos provided by the community members of Shaktoolik.