2023 Iditarod underway
WILLOW— The 2023 Iditarod is officially underway. Mushers departed from the Willow Community Center Sunday, March 5.
So far, this has been a really nice start," Iditarod COO Chas St. George said.
The Iditarod restart was held at Deshka Landing and closed to the public during the peak of the pandemic in 2021. The restart returned to the Willow Community Center the following year.
St. George said that he was thrilled to see such a huge turnout of people from around the world gather in Willow to cheer on the mushers.
"I was amazed at how 2 years of not being able to go out and go anywhere has really evolved into this wonderful celebration that we had yesterday," St. George said.
33 mushers are participating in the 2023 Iditarod. St. George said that he's impressed with this year's roster. He said there's a lot of top notch talent exhibited amongst the veteran racers and rookies alike.
"All the teams look good. We knew this was a very special field," St. George said.
St. George estimated that the final rush for first place will ultimately come down to about 10 mushers.
"I think it's going to be a great race. It's going to be interesting," St. George said.
The Iditarod is the ultimate test of grit for mushers and their canine companions. St. George commended the wide range of mushers from all walks of life for sharing a common love and dedication for their dogs.
"They're not just committed to what they do but they're also really committed to their dogs," St. George said.
Mushers made their final preparations before making their way to the starting line.
Kristy Berington said that she was really anxious to get down their trail as she was getting ready for the race.
"I feel like the team I put together this year is something else and I can't wait to see what they can do," Berington said.
This is Berington's 14th run in the Iditarod.
"I feel like it never gets any easier," Berington said.
Kristy Berington trains and races alongside her twin sister Anna Berington. The Knik mushers operate Seeing Double Sled Dog Racing to prepare for each year's Iditarod.
"I think Anna and I have more fun than anybody out there," Berington said. "I think mushers really appreciate all the little things in life. It's just a really special thing to be a part of."
The Iditarod typically alternates between the Northern Route on even years and the Southern Route on odd years.
Racers will follow the Southern Route this year, venturing nearly 1,000 miles through the harsh, cold, and unforgiving Alaskan wilderness.
For more information about the 2023 Iditarod, including current race standings, visit iditarod.org.
Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at firstname.lastname@example.org