October 18, 2018

Eye on the Trail: When Does Iditarod Start?

Jessica Klejka leads Cain Carter across Willow Lake to the JR Iditarod Finish. Klejka wins by two seconds!

When does Iditarod start? That’s a question I hear often. My answer is always, “The last Saturday of February.”  If you’re an avid race fan, you’d quickly correct me saying, “Hey everyone knows Iditarod begins on the first Saturday of March!”  Hear my out on this.

On the last Saturday of February, exactly one week prior to Iditarod, the JR Iditarod begins.  Young mushers need a proving and practice ground in the junior races as they pursue their mushing goals .  Those goals may very well include Iditarod.  Iditarod dreams for mushers Rayme Smyth, Ryan Redington Jeff Deeter and Jessica Klejka did begin with the JR Iditarod.

Smyth, Redington, Deeter and Klejka are all signed up for Iditarod 2019.  Together they bring twelve years of JR Iditarod experience to the long race as well as a few trophies.  Klejka, Smyth and Redington have all claimed JR Iditarod gold.  Smyth and Redington have two wins each.  Klejka who is running her rookie Iditarod has a single JR Iditarod victory – a photo finish victory over Cain Carter.