ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The 2021 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will be about 140 miles (225 kilometers) shorter than normal as a result of complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.
Race officials announced Friday that teams will no longer embark on a 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) journey to Nome but instead will take a roughly 860-mile (1,384-kilometer) loop that starts and ends in Willow.
Mushers and their sled dogs will turn around near the mining ghost town of Flat and make their way back to Willow, Alaska's Energy Desk reported.
Every musher must also test negative for the coronavirus before the race begins. They will also be tested again during the race. Facial coverings and social distancing will be mandated at checkpoints, according to race officials.
The Iditarod is scheduled to start on March 6, 2021, in Anchorage, with a restart scheduled for Willow the next day. Race officials said they would soon announce the finalized details about where exactly in Willow the race will start and begin.
There are 57 teams signed up to compete in next year's race, including former champions Pete Kaiser, Joar Leifseth Ulsom and Dallas Seavey.