Richie Diehl - 2023 Takotna

Richie Diehl coming in to Takotna checkpoint.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Mushers and their dogs in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race face plenty of variables in the Alaska wilderness. An unexpected one this year has been heat that is taking a toll in a sport better suited for temperatures well below zero.

Jason Mackey said a thermometer hanging from the back of his sled hit 80 degrees Fahrenheit (26.67 degree C) at one point this week as he camped alongside the trail while mushers neared the halfway mark of the race. Other racers threw their game plans for the 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) race across Alaska out the window to deal with the heat and messy trail conditions.

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