2013 Iditarod holds its ceremonial start in Anchorage, Alaska. Tomorrow's leg will run just 11-miles out to the Campbell Airstrip ahead of the official start of the race on Sunday in Willow, from there the real race will be underway with the top sled dog teams in the world competing with one another to see who will be the first to complete the 1000-mile route to Nome.
At the start of the race, there will be 66 mushers in the field, many of whom are extremely experienced. Amongst the racers who will no doubt contend for the title are defending champ Dallas Seavey and his dad Mitch, who won the 2004 Iditarod. Other names to keep an eye on include Jeff King, Paul Gebhardt, Aaron Burmeister, Brent Sass and Martin Buser. And don't count out former four-time champ Lance Mackey either. He hasn't has a lot of luck in the past few years, but he is still one of the best in the field.
Since 2013 is an odd numbered year, this year's route will take the teams on the southern route when they come out of the Ophir checkpoint. This will have them running through the villages of Iditarod, Shageluk, Anvik, Grayling and Eagle Island before returning to the standard route in Kaltag. From there it is just a straight shot along the trial to the finish line in Nome.
A few weeks back there were some concerns about the trail and whether or not there would be enough snow to run the race this year. But regular winter storms have made that a moot point now and it looks like the trail is in great condition all the way from Anchorage to Nome. The one exception to that is the always tricky section that follows the CP in Rainy Pass. This area is well known to the mushers who must use all of their skill to weave their way along the route on a good year. But this year storms have downed a number of trees, making the route even more challenging than normal. Expect more than a few mushers to have problems navigating through this infamous part of the Iditarod Trail.
Good luck to everyone as they embark on this 1000-mile odyssey across the Alaskan frontier. It should be fun to follow along as always.