The 2010 version of the Iditarod Trail Invitational began Sunday, February 28th, beginning at Knik Lake Alaska. There will be many ways to keep up with the racers this year. Craig Medred from the Alaska Dispatch is reporting from along the course as he visits the various checkpoints. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter. There are also links to his reports on the Alaska Ultra Sport website. Craig's first Twitter report stated that the trail was blown away across Flathorn Lake, scattering the racers across a wide swath. Once across the lake they will cross the Dismal Swamp, then follow the Susitna and Yentna Rivers to the first checkpoint. The temperatures on the rivers can drop dangerously low with a constant headwind. Most will try to make it to the checkpoint without stopping.
There are reports of very little snow going over Rainy Pass and down through the Dalzell Gorge. The lack of snow means that there will be open water to negotiate if they can't get the ice bridges constructed. The ice bridges are made by putting down a base of branches which are then covered with snow, which then freezes solid enough to allow racers to cross. This portion of the course is very beautiful and is one of the reasons we are drawn back to compete every year. The racers will be treated to wildlife sightings, glaciers and ever changing trail conditions.
There is also very little snow across the Farewell Burn, which could mean up to ninety miles of pulling sleds across dirt and rocks. Of course, these conditions would be very good for the cyclists. As always, the conditions can change in a moment so we will have to wait and see what the racers encounter along the historic trail.