ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Though the Iditarod racers may be starting the race this weekend, Jeff King, a four-time Iditarod champion, said that the real challenge won't fully begin for some time yet.
The ceremonial start to the festivities is Saturday, but according to King, the real race will begin after he leaves Skwentna.
"The first 50, 60 miles is mostly on a river, which makes it easy to pass. There will be dozens if not a hundred campfires and thousands of people cheering us on," King said.
"It makes it for a fun day. But when you leave Skwentna, we go through the curtain," he said. "It'll feel like the race started. Until then it doesn't. It's all fun, but that's when the world becomes closed in on us."
King said he's excited for the southern route change this year, as he won three of his four Iditarod victories on the south route.
"It's been five years since we've been there," he said. "I'm really glad to be back to that."
As far as if King will have any new inventions on the trail this year, he said he did have at least one. As to what it is, however, King said with a smile, "I'm not tellin' ya."
At the ceremonial start this year, King's sled toppled over, taking him with it. The wipe out happened at the exact same corner as last year, where King's Iditarider wiped out in 2017. You can view the wipeout video, as well as an interview excerpt with King, below: