Update from Willow pre Race night

Hello iditarod Race Fans.

The Ceremonial Start went off without a hitch, at least without any major hitches. Matt Failor’s dog truck had a little meeting with the ditch, Zoya Denure’s gangline did not not make it in the trailer, Jason Campeau’s starting bib was missing for a while….. In the end everybody made it across the starting line in time. The Iditariders has the biggest of smiles on their faces. Snow was plentiful and the city of Anchorage had done a fantastic job trucking in snow and preparing the numerous road crossings. 

I drove to Willow early for tomorrow’s restart. That is going to get interesting. Already about 8 inches of snow have fallen throughout the day. And the main front of the storm has not even arrived yet. There is a winter storm warning out, calling for another 8 to 16 inches. Needless to say small planes will not be flying anywhere anytime soon. The race crew, which got flown out early, will have their work cut out for them. We just had a phone conference outlining a rough plan of who is flying where, likely that plan is going to change a time or two.

Fan favorite Aliy Zirkle on the way to the starting line

This snow will for sure be a game changer. Tomorrow many local snomachines are going to be out on the trails. All the way to Skwentna there is going to be plenty of traffic. Past Skwentna traffic will get less, usually a fair size group of people will go as far as Shell Lake, waiting next to a large bonfire for the first mushers to arrive. If that musher gets lucky, he will be handled an envelope with some cold hard cash as a reward for getting there 1st. Typically around midnight Sunday night. Time will tell how much slower the trail will end up being. Passing is going to be a challenge, specially passing dog teams with no necklines. Pulling over to camp is also not going to be as easy as usual. Ideally a team gets away from the mail trail to pull over to not impede the passing teams and mainly to get some quality and quite rest. Those teams are dependent on ” off shoots ” where snowmachiners left the main trail. Anybody who is not driving a super wide track, will not dare to venture off trail, out of fear for getting stuck. So offshoot trails are going to be far and few in between, specially past Skwentna. 

Here is a selection of shots from today. Enjoy! Game time tomorrow.