As pandemic-related travel restrictions remain active in rural Alaska, this will be another unusual March in Nome.

The 2021 Iditarod is following a drastically shortened route: no dog teams will be visiting the Norton Sound region this year, but rather turning back in interior Alaska. In lieu of the excitement the Nome finish normally brings, local dogs have become the center of attention.

The Nome Kennel Club, the oldest dog mushing association in the world, is hosting a variety of short and long distance dog races this spring.

As temperatures averaged fifteen below, five teams participated in a 26-mile long race in early February. Club president Neil Strandberg told listeners conditions were “perfect”: “The lead finisher said that he hasn’t seen it this good in a long time. It looked like there was some good competition out there.”

This was the second win in a row for Nome dog musher Nils Hahn, whose wife Diana came in third, both with 12-dog teams.

Image at the top: Nils Hahn of Nome holds a dog bib after winning Nome Kennel Club’s 26-mile race.