Iditarod: The Last Great Race


Melanie Kibler

ALASKA – The Iditarod is already underway, having started on Saturday, March 2nd, at 10:00am AKST.  In the 1 day and 18 hours since, some of the dogs and their Mushers have already reached the 8th checkpoint which is 263 miles from the start.

As of right now, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and his dogs are in first place, having reached the 8th checkpoint an hour and 18 minutes ahead of Peter Kaiser (2nd place).  Ulsom has started (competed) in six Iditarods so far, and he has come in top-7 in each start. He was even the 2018 Iditarod Champion.

This year’s  Iditarod course is  the Southern Route, which they use during the odd years.  The estimated distance between the start and and the end is about 998 miles, but the length can vary based on the weather conditions.

Before this year the mushers would have to rely on general weather forecasts, but this year there is a specialist, Rick Thoman, who will provide trail-specific forecasts.  According to Thoman, “Strategies and safety along the way are dependent on weather conditions” and “More specific weather forecasts can only help the dogs, the mushers and the race.”

There isn’t much data to tell who will come out on top, or who is predicted to win.  This is because the conditions can change so drastically that it is hard to guess which musher will be successful.

Even those who have competed in the Iditarod before are not guaranteed to even reach the Top 10.  Someone could be in the top 10 one day, then have a bad stretch, and end up 20th by the end of the day.

At this point it really is anyone’s game and it all depends on the next 6 days.


*Disclaimer: By the time this article was published the race standing had completely changed*