With less than a week until the start of Iditarod XLII, concerns about forecasted warm weather and its effects on the trail are already on many mushers' minds.
The warm temperatures and undesirable trail conditions caused the Iditarod Trail Committee to debate whether to move the race's restart to Fairbanks, but last week the decision was made to keep it in Willow.
For 16-time Iditarod veteran Jim Lanier, they're conditions he'd rather not ride in -- but he says it’s been worse.
“The worst was ’84,” said Lanier. “I was hoping they’d restart in Fairbanks. Most mushers I know felt that way. We’ll see how it all plays out; I hope they made the right decision."
Mark Nordman, the Iditarod's race director, says the sunshine and rising temperatures expected in Southcentral Alaska this week caused some worries, but he says the committee is confident in its decision to keep the restart in Willow.
“It’s always a challenge to get over the Alaska Range with a snowmachine, dog team or whatever, but I think we’re on the right track," Nordman said. "And I trust the people who are working out there, and I think we’re going to give them a good trail."
This will be Robert Bundtzen’s 14th Iditarod. Whether it’s snow, slush or ice on the ground, his best advice is to roll with the punches.
“You just hang on to the sled and take what comes," Bundtzen said. "Hopefully you’ve got good leaders and just don’t make any stupid mistakes.”
There’s no other race like the Iditarod and at the end of the day, veteran mushers say the inconvenient weather and trail conditions will be nothing they can’t handle.
“We’ve done this before -- I mean, it is the Iditarod,” Bundtzen said.
“Whatever you have to do, just do it; that’s the Iditarod,” Lanier said.