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And so it begins (again)!

65 mushers*, 1,000 miles, and 1 (Last  Great) race: over the next two weeks at KNOM, we’ll be covering all angles of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, both on the air – 96.1 FM and 780 AM – and on this site. Iditarod is back, and we’re thrilled to bring you the latest in this 41st running of the Last Great Race.

It is Sunday afternoon in Alaska, and as these words are hitting cyberspace, the mushers of Iditarod 41 are hitting the trail – again.

As Iditarod fans may know, the Anchorage-to-Nome race has two official starts. The “ceremonial start,” which took place yesterday in downtown Anchorage, features ample doses of pomp, circumstance, and media coverage, but effectively, it has no competitive relevance.

The clock doesn’t begin ticking until today (Sunday) with the race “re-start,” as Iditarod 41’s competitors depart from the Willow checkpoint in two-minute intervals.

Dallas Seavey on the sea ice

2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey mushing on the sea ice of the Norton Sound, just minutes before crossing the finish line in downtown Nome. Photo by Laura Collins.

By 4:10pm today, all mushers should be on the trail, making their way 42 miles to Yentna Station and then 30 more miles to Skwentna. As musher-turned-blogger Sebastian Schnuelle writes today, some mushers may elect to camp out somewhere between Willow and Skwentna, especially given the relatively warm weather in Southcentral Alaska (with temperatures in some places higher than the freezing point).

With the first full day of mushing on Monday, our on-air coverage kicks into high gear, with Iditarod Updates at 9am, 12noon, and 5pm (on 96.1 FM and 780 AM). Both on our airwaves and on this blog, you’ll often hear the voice of our intrepid trail reporter Laureli Kinneen, who will be following the competitors of Iditarod 41 from Willow all the way to Front Street in Nome.

On this blog, you’ll find trail interviews from mushers, daily recordings of on-air, Iditarod Updates (expect these around 6pm each day), and, as the race concludes, select audio recordings of the top mushers to cross the finish line.

Before long, we’ll be welcoming the latest pack of Iditarod mushers to Nome (like last year’s champion, Dallas Seavey, pictured above).

Thank you for reading and for listening. Stay tuned!

*According to Iditarod.com, the race’s would-be 66th musher – Michigan native Ed Stielstra – scratched (or withdrew) from the race prior to the Willow re-start, thus leaving 65 mushers to take to the trail on Sunday.