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