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Iditarod 2020 Trail

Iditarod map even yearsThe trail and distances between checkpoints:

Willow – Start
Yentna Station – 52 miles [84 km]
Skwentna – 34 miles [55 km]
Finger Lake – 45 miles [72 km]
Rainy Pass – 30 miles [48 km]
Rohn – 48 miles [77 km]
Nikolai – 75 miles [121 km]
McGrath – 54 miles [87 km] [Spirit of Alaska]
Takotna – 18 miles [29 km]
Ophir – 25 miles [40 km]
Cripple – 59 miles [95 km] [Halfway]
Ruby – 112 miles [180 km] [First to the Yukon]
Galena – 52 miles [84 km]
Nulato – 52 miles [84 km]
Kaltag – 42 miles [68 km]
Unalakleet – 90 miles [145 km] [Gold Coast]
Shaktoolik – 42 miles [68 km]
Koyuk – 48 miles [77 km]
Elim – 48 miles [77 km]
Golovin – 28 miles [45 km]
White Mountain – 18 miles [29 km]
Safety – 55 miles [88 km]
Nome – 22 miles [35 km]

The items in italics after checkpoints are awards for being first to those points. The distance is from the previous checkpoint. Some teams in the early going will travel at 12 mph [20kph] or better with all 16 dogs eager to go. There are reasons not to do this.

At the beginning of the race, especially if there is deep snow, the moose will use the trail. To a moose a sled dog team is a wolf pack, and they will attack. An adult moose can easily kill, or severely injure, multiple dogs on a team. You don’t want to run into a moose.

Between Finger Lake and Rainy Pass you discover the Happy Valley Steps. The Steps are jarring enough with snow on them, but without the snow they’re slabs of rock, quite capable of busting up a sled. Hopefully the Happy River will be frozen for the race.

After Rainy Pass, you face the descent into the Dalzell Gorge. Without snow to help with steering and braking, it will be even more of a nightmare than the E+ ticket it has always been.

The run from Rohn to Nikolai as two fun features. The Glacier is actually minor; it is a spring that pours water down a hill. If it is cold enough, it will be glare ice, otherwise it will be a cold mud patch.

The bigger problem is the Farewell Burn. This was the result of a forest fire, and the area is second growth, stumps, logs, and the hummocks of grass that can act like the bumpers in a pinball machine. The ideal condition for the Burn is deep snow to cushion the sled and keep above the hummocks and stumps.

After Nikolai things calm down a lot, but people really start thinking about taking their 24-hour stop.

The moon is full on March 8. There is about 12 hours of visible light during the day (Vernal Equinox is March 19), and an increase of around 6 minutes every day. March 8 is also the start of Daylight Saving Time, so there will be no need of adjustment during the race.