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First climate change and now financial worries are forcing some competitors to stay off the trail this year.
All race checkpoints will now be road accessible, a change that could increase entries before a sign up deadline that’s been extended until Friday.
Alexie beat the second place finisher, veteran Pete Kaiser of Bethel, by 14 minutes.
Hugh Neff has finished the Iditarod 13 times, placing as high as 5th in 2011. But over the past few years, he has had trouble in both the Iditarod and the Yukon Quest.
As the Iditarod has become more competitive, the middle- to back-of-the pack mushers who made it more of a cultural event have struggled with rising costs.
Some legendary careers are winding down. Other mushers are taking a break. All are grappling with higher costs in an already-expensive sport.
Christian Turner is an unlikely entrant in the 1,000-mile sled dog race, but not for lack of experience: He’s a two-time finisher, placing his highest at 15th in 2015, his last Iditarod.