Brenda's 2003 Daily Iditarod Coverage
Countdown to Iditarod 2003 Restart — Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
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February 21, 2003

More changes to the New 2003 Route!!

The weird weather of 2003 has caused Iditarod officials more headaches and long nights of making some hard decisions regarding trail conditions. Now the plan is that from Fairbanks the teams will travel to Nenana, Manley, Tanana and on to Ruby. However, rather than travel south from Ruby, teams will follow the Yukon River through Galena, Nulato and on to Kaltag. From Kaltag teams will head south on the Yukon to Eagle Island, Anvik and Shageluk and then directly to Grayling. From Grayling teams will return to Eagle Island and on up river to Kaltag. From Kaltag teams will follow the usual trail to the coast and on to Nome.

Sixty-five (65) mushers and their teams are in the final stages of their preparations for the 31st running of the Iditarod which will start in Anchorage on Saturday, March 1st at 10:00 a.m. Many are a bit worried, with the new changes, just where their food drops will actually end up. It is already a logistical nightmare for all concerned, especially the mushers who prepared for taking a long layover at the Iditarod checkpoint which is no longer in the route but now find that these drop bags will be sent to another checkpoint where they may not need all of the supplies. Yet the checkpoint where the mushers need enough supplies for their long layover may receive a bag with minimal provisions. This will necessitate the mushers carrying more food in their sled than they normally would, devastating the edge years of streamlined planning and preparation the veteran mushers have gained through multiple runs of the Last Great Race. This race may tend to have the mushers act more like the old trappers who mushed from roadhouse to roadhouse, hunting for their meals along the way.

The race will still re-start one day later than normal on Monday, March 3rd at 10:00 a.m. in Fairbanks on the Chena River near Pikes Waterfront.

The Junior Iditarod starts on Saturday March 22 at noon at the Wolverine Lodge near Glenallen, Alaska. There are 19 teams entered in this year's race and they too will have a new route to follow.