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Alaska: Sparse snow forces start of Iditarod to Fairbanks

The start of Alaska's famed Iditarod dog sled race has been moved to Fairbanks. Blame the scarcity of snow

The official start of the legendary Iditarod dog sled race on Monday is being moved to Fairbanks because of a lack of snow.

It’s only the second time in 40 runnings that the competition has been moved. The widely watched race is held each March, typically between Anchorage and Nome. This year, however, the starting line was moved more than 250 miles north.

Officials decided that a lack of snow in the Alaska Range northwest of Anchorage would have made the usual route unsafe.

The ceremonial start of the race will remain in Anchorage. It will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at 4th Avenue and D Street.

 The mushers and their dogs -- 79 teams in total -- will then be transported to Fairbanks, from which the trek to Nome will begin at 10 a.m. Monday, March 9, outside Pike’s Waterfront Lodge. It will also serve as race headquarters.

It generally takes teams nine to 15 days to cover the 1,000-mile course.

The race was inspired by the 1925 “Serum Run” during which mushers and their dogs stopped an outbreak of diphtheria by delivering vaccine to Nome, then a remote gold mining community. That race against time also began in the Fairbanks area.

This month’s visitors to Fairbanks will want to view the ice sculptures that have been carved for the World Ice Art Championships. More than 70 ice sculptors from around the world are participating.

The event continues through March 29. Admission is $15 for adults and $8 for children ages 6-17.

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