Iditarod cancels 2021 ceremonial start in Anchorage

The 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race held its ceremonial start in Anchorage on Saturday, March 7, 2020. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has canceled this year’s ceremonial start in Anchorage.

The cancellation stems from concerns about holding a large gathering during the pandemic, according to a statement Friday from Iditarod chief executive Rob Urbach.

“While the Iditarod believes the future does not belong to the fainthearted, we take the health and well-being of our racers, volunteers, staff and spectators very seriously,” he said.

Normally each year, Iditarod teams start their race in Anchorage on a Saturday, with an 11-mile parade-like event that draws crowds of spectators to the city’s streets and trails. Then, they head to Willow for the official race start.

This year, the teams will begin the Iditarod on Sunday, March 7, at Deshka Landing in Willow. That’s also where they’ll end their race. Instead of going to Nome, the teams are traveling an 860-mile out-and-back course this year. 

RELATED: The 2021 Iditarod sled dog race is still on, but will end in Willow

There are 50 teams signed up to compete, including recent champions Pete Kaiser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Dallas Seavey.

Reach reporter Tegan Hanlon at or 907-550-8447.

Tegan Hanlon is the digital managing editor at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at or 907-550-8447. Read more about Tegan here.

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