Alaska Public Media's Tegan Hanlon talks with four-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey in February in the dog lot at his Talkeetna-based kennel. Seavey is back in the Iditarod this year after taking three years off following a scandal in 2017's race, after which the Iditarod said two of Seavey's dogs had tested positive for a banned pain-reliever, then later cleared him of any wrongdoing.
We rejoin the Iditarod something like 48 hours in, and, on what sounds like a hard and fast trail, mushers are pacing themselves for the shorter 850-mile race. There've been a total of three scratches so far, none bigger than Aliy Zirkle, who suffered a concussion and upper body injury in the Dalzell Gorge and had to be flown out of Rohn by helicopter. Also, we catch up with our pal Zachariah Hughes in McGrath.
The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is going to look a lot different, one year into a global COVID-19 pandemic. (The Iditapod’s going to be pretty different this year, too, as we'll explain). The ceremonial start is canceled, so the race begins Sunday in Willow under strict COVID-19 protocols, with a shortened trail that doubles back on itself, a challenge to sled dog teams to cross the Alaska Range not once, but twice, plus coronavirus testing along the way and less access to indoor spaces at checkpoints... This Iditarod is certainly going to be unique.