Iron Dog finalizing plans for a full race in 2021

Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 2:56 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Iron Dog is finalizing its 2021 race route and is confident it will take the same route as last year, according to Interim Executive Director Mike Vasser. This means 26 pro-class teams will race 2,645 miles through 26 communities beginning on Feb. 13 and finishing on Feb. 20 at Big Lake.

“Trying to keep the 37-year tradition of the Iron Dog race going is the focus at this point,” Vasser said over the phone on Thursday. “We feel very confident that the racecourse set forth prior to me coming is going to be the racecourse that we follow, which is good news.”

While the Iditarod modified its race for 2021, Vasser said the Iron Dog is confident it can stick to its race route from previous years because they have fewer people physically following along the trail and the pace of the Iron Dog is quicker. The race is also working with Capstone Clinic and Valley Upright Imaging on recommendations for a COVID-19 mitigation plan and expects to have three points along with the race for testing, according to Vasser. The 2021 race will have other changes including specific layover locations, limited to no air support, and a small number of mechanics that will be allowed at wrench day in Nome.

“The start will be downplayed a little bit to reduce the public interaction with participants,” Vasser said. “We do not want to carry a virus, or have one of our participants carry a virus into the rural communities who have done such a great job all year long in managing it.”

Vasser said he expects them to finalize the race route and their mitigation plans by the end of the month.

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