While the coronavirus sidelines other sports, the Iditarod mushes on
Most major sporting events are sidelined by the coronavirus right now. But one is mushing on: the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
As Alaska confirmed its first case of COVID-19 this week, and state officials closed schools until the end of the month, dozens of mushers and hundreds of sled dogs continued their sprint across 1,000 miles of the state.
Race officials say they’ve increased cleanings at checkpoints, and postponed major events at the finish line in Nome. By Friday morning, they had not considered ending the race early, according to Iditarod chief executive Rob Urbach.
“We’re doing the best we can to make the Last Great Race uber hygienic,” Urbach said.
In some ways, the Iditarod may be the ultimate form of social distancing. Teams travel hundreds of miles through rural Alaska. But, along the way, they also stop at small, remote communities that serve as race checkpoints. And with the mushers and sled dogs, come volunteers, veterinarians, race officials, pilots, reporters and mushing fans.