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Anchorage prepares for return of Iditarod ceremonial start

Final preparations continued in downtown Anchorage on Friday for the Iditarod’s ceremonial start.
Published: Mar. 5, 2022 at 8:18 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Final preparations continued in downtown Anchorage on Friday for the Iditarod’s ceremonial start.

The signs are in place, along with the fences where fans are expected to line 4th Avenue to watch the 49 sled dog teams pass by them on their way from downtown Anchorage to the Campbell Airstrip. Snow for sled dog teams to race on is the only thing missing, but thats expected to be in place by the time the festivities start Saturday morning.

“We’re not racing, we’re just kind of celebrating the culture and the Iditarod, and all of our fans in Anchorage,” Iditarod Race Marshal Mark Nordman said.

The ceremonial start returns for the first time since 2020. Nordman called it a bit of a challenge.

“You know when you skip a year, in some ways we felt like we were starting over,” Nordman said.

While the work continues to get downtown ready for its unofficial race, according to Nordman, conditions in Anchorage are a lot better on the actual trail the sled dog teams will take on their 1,049 mile journey from Willow to Nome.

“They just got one heck of a blizzard up in the Alaska Range,” Nordman said. “Finger Lake, beyond there, they got another foot plus of snow.”

Meanwhile, shoppers fill the Iditarod store at the Lakefront Hotel, which serves as the headquarters for the race. They gather to find souvenirs.

“It’s the penultimate race for sled dogs. The stars are all in it, so it’s a great time in Anchorage,” Elizabeth Alexander said.

Some shoppers seek more than souvenirs. Ellen Weiser hopes to get some advice.

“I have my own dog team,” Weiser said. “Seeing the big boys run it’s just inspiring to me.”

Weiser will be among those along 4th Avenue who will also witness history. The Ceremonial Start to the 50th anniversary of the world’s last great race.

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