During the race, mushers bypassed most rural Alaska villages that normally serve as checkpoints as a safety precaution, leaving the competitors to sleep in tent camps outside towns or under the stars in temperatures that have reached minus 48 degrees Celsius (minus 54 degrees Fahrenheit).
Mushers handle their dog care on a cold morning in McGrath, Alaska, March 13, 2021.
Since the race started, nine mushers have withdrawn including fan-favorite Aliy Zirkle, who was injured in a fall in what she has said would be her last race. Another musher, Gunnar Johnson, withdrew after he tested positive for COVID-19. That left 36 teams on the trail.
Richie Diehl leaves the Ophir checkpoint with his dog team during the race, Ophir, Alaska, March 12, 2021.
The race route was changed and shortened this year. Mushers started the race near Willow, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. From there, they traveled to the ghost town of Iditarod and then turned back around to finish in Willow.
A sign behind Mille Porsild says Nome 852 miles, a nod to the traditional Iditarod finish line, as she packs straw before leaving the Finger Lake checkpoint, Alaska, March 14, 2021.
Larry Daugherty, a musher from Eagle River, holds empty packages of COVID-19 vaccine which he will carry with him on race trail in a nod to the 1925 Serum Run, which relied on a relay of dog teams bringing the diphtheria vaccine to save a village from disease, at Deshka Landing in Willow, Alaska, March 7, 2021.
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