It was evident by the sighs and rueful smiles of Iditarod race officials that everything that could have been done to save Ceremonial Start Day, was.
It just wasn’t meant to be.
This afternoon’s press conference at the Lakefront Anchorage Hotel was more crowded than in past years, mostly due to a not-so-surprising announcement earlier in the day that despite efforts to transport snow via Alaska Railroad trains from Fairbanks and/or grind up the four or so inches of ice on Anchorage trails between 4th Avenue and the Campbell Airstrip, the Iditarod 2016 Ceremonial Start would be shortened from 11 original miles to a mere three.
Here’s what you need to know:
CANCELED: Campbell Creek Science Center Open House.
All Ceremonial Start routes south and east of Davenport Ballfields (I’ll explain more in a minute) along the Chester Creek Trail system.
Options for viewing the Ceremonial Start with kids:
- 4th Avenue staging area beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, March 5. Park at the west end of downtown and walk to 4th Avenue. Visit with mushers, take photos, and listen to the cacophony of 86 teams ready to head out on the trail.
- Prior to 9:45 a.m., walk to the east end of 4th Avenue and the start area to view teams mushing at two-minute intervals beginning at 10 a.m. With spectators crowded along a very small three-mile stretch of “trail,” things are bound to be crowded, so be ready to keep an eye on kids and gear.
- Walk the length of Cordova Street from 4th Avenue. Nice viewing to the south end where a hill dips down toward Chester Creek Trail.
- Chester Creek Trail: Park near Anchorage Senior Center and walk to Chester Creek Trail. Wide expanse of space for viewing (as much as possible for this race, anyway), and parking should be more available than the endpoint a few miles away.
- Davenport Fields: Located along Lake Otis Parkway, between Northern Lights Boulevard and 20th (in a “dip” of the road). Parking will be EXTREMELY limited at the fields. My tip? Park at Wendler Middle School at the intersection of Northern Lights and Lake Otis, and walk north along Lake Otis to the fields.
- Alaska Public Lands Information Center, 4th Avenue. Open 10 a.m.-3 p.m. for Iditarod Historic Trail information, Alaska-themed movies, maps, and ideas for adventures.
- Alaska Native Heritage Center. Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for a free day of activities, music, and exhibits centered around the state sport and its importance to indigenous peoples of Alaska.
- AKontheGO Iditarod Scavenger Hunt (below). Check off items as you talk with mushers, staff, and volunteers of the race.