Iditarod show goes on despite lack of snow – City crews overnight delivered up to 350 dump truck loads of snow and spread it out over city blocks so the show could go onPosted by Jim at Sunday, March 08, 2015
By MARK THIESSEN
8 March 2015
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – If there is one day when mushers in the Iditarod sled dog race don't have to worry about trail conditions, it should be Saturday during the ceremonial start.
A lack of snow south of the Alaska Range created treacherous trail conditions, forcing race officials to move the competitive start of the race to Monday in Fairbanks. A stalled jet stream pushed Arctic air and snow into the Midwest and the East Coast, but kept Alaska fairly warm and dry this winter. But the ceremonial start, a chance for fans and mushers to meet in a casual atmosphere, went on as planned in Alaska's largest city.
Despite the city receiving only about a third of its normal winter snowfall, Anchorage was still able to stage the traditional ceremonial start to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. City crews overnight delivered up to 350 dump truck loads of snow and spread it out over city blocks so the show could go on. The festivities started Saturday morning in very un-Iditarod like conditions, almost 40 degrees with a light rain falling before the start.
City maintenance workers stockpiled snow from neighborhoods the past few months and kept it for winter events, culminating with the Iditarod, said Paul VanLandingham with the public works department.
This event is designed for fans who can't be on the rugged thousand-mile trail stretching from Fairbanks to Nome.
Mushers took off from the start line along Anchorage's Fourth Avenue every two minutes. Fans lined the streets and cheered on the mushers and their Iditariders, who are people who have won auctions to be in the sled. The route covered 19 city blocks before it met up with the city's trail system and ends in East Anchorage.
It's a very relaxed atmosphere before the start. Fans arrive early Saturday morning to mingle with the mushers and pet one of the estimated thousand dogs that will be in the race.
Dan and Kathie Taylor of Akron, Ohio, made their second trip to Alaska after falling in love with the state during an earlier summertime visit. They were surprised how the city prepared.
"I didn't know that they would bring in snow for this," Kathie said. "We were wondering what would happen today." [more]