Organizers have moved the Iditarod’s start from Willow, Alaska, to Fairbanks due to concerns about a lack of snow. It’s only the second time the race has been moved in the event’s 43-year history.
The Iditarod board of directors announced the decision Tuesday after members viewed parts of the trail that low snow had made hazardous, Alaska Dispatch News reports. The board received complaints about the trail last year from mushers who said certain parts of the trail were too dangerous. The race will still begin on March 9 after a ceremonial start in Anchorage on March 7.
“You can’t take the danger out of [the race] without snow,” said musher and board member Paul Gebhardt, who viewed sections of the notoriously dangerous Dalzell Gorge. Low snow conditions expose boulders on that part of the trail and render it impassable.
The race was moved in 2003 due to the same issues.
Race marshal Mark Nordman acknowledged that rerouting the race would disadvantage villages along the original trail that might depend on the surge of visitors. He urged the importance of safety to those residents on Tuesday.
“It’s a big gain for a new group of people and a disappointment for others,” Nordman told the Alaska Dispatch News. “But everyone understands why the decision had to be made.”