Iditarod Preparations

Conway Seavey booties dogs running for his father, 2013 Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey, before the team goes for a warmup run on the Chena River near Fouts Avenue on Sunday, March 8, 2015.

FAIRBANKS — It’s crunch time in Fairbanks as borough and state departments, police and state troopers, hotels and race officials all coordinate their final moves to ensure a successful start to the 2015 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.

The Iditarod trail crews kicked into high gear early Sunday morning to lay down snow for the start line on Hoselton Road. 

Crews used everything from shovels to heavy-duty graders to set up snow barriers and smooth out the first mile of the course.

When asked what still needed to be done Sunday morning, Restart Coordinator Darrell Davis said “basically everything.”

“We set everything up the day before the race,” Davis said. “It’ll all come down right after the race, too. The whole trail will be constructed. The fencing will be installed.”

The Fairbanks North Star Borough closed traffic in the area around the starting line, near Hoselton Road, Dale Road and Broadmoor Avenue on Saturday night and Sunday morning so crews could begin grading the route. 

Crews were still hard at work Sunday afternoon. Davis said they would continue working well into the evening.

“We started working this morning and we’ll work until it’s done,” he said. “Sometimes we’re able to get done late evening (or) night. Sometimes we’re working all night long. It just depends on what kind of problems we might run into, but at the end of the day, we’ll continue to work until it’s done.”

Along with constructing the snow barriers and grading the trail, Davis said lining the start with fencing would require much of the setup time before the start.

After racing the first mile down Fairbanks streets, mushers will drop onto the Chena River just west of the Riverboat Discovery. Since the decision was made March 2 to skip an earlier section of the river for safety reasons, conditions have changed significantly. 

The temperature remained elevated, hovering around freezing into the weekend before falling as low as 10-above Sunday. Fairbanks also received several inches of snow Friday and Saturday. After another week of high temperatures and heavier snowfall morphed the composition of the course on the Chena since race organizers looked it in last week.

“It sure looks different out there than when I was here just a few days ago,” Iditarod CEO Stan Hooley said.

Race Marshal Mark Nordman said his team has been keeping an eye on the river all week and don’t foresee any problems for the racers.

“We’re monitoring it real closely,” Nordman said. “We’ve got a couple local guys that are going to ride it (Saturday night) and take a look, but it’s marked, it’s staked. I’ve talked to a couple local guys about the river out here, so I’m not concerned about that as far as safety goes.”

Nordman said, if they had any concerns about the river conditions, they mainly would be concerned for members of the public who might wander beyond the beaten path. For mushers and their dog teams, though, Nordman said he had no worries.

“Our trail breakers went out. They’re already up in Manley, so that trail is marked, it’s staked from here all the way up to Manley,” he said. “We’ve got another six snowmachines out right now.”

Though Iditarod crews were ramping up preparations Sunday, local organizers were settling in to enjoy the fruits of their last three weeks’ labor. 

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins said he still was receiving calls for the borough’s fencing Saturday, but by Sunday, he had moved out of the drivers’ seat and said he was just trying to enjoy the ride.

“For me, I sit back and (think) our community came together, we put our resources together,” Hopkins said. “The race is ready to go. It’s all set up, or it’s being set up now.”

2015 Iditarod starting lineup

1. Honorary musher

2. Rob Cooke

3. Jessie Royer

4. Martin Buser

5. Lachlan Clarke

6. Michelle Phillips

7. Alan Eischens

9. Kelly Maixner

10. Cindy Abbott

11. Kristy Berington

12. Nicolas Petit

13. Jim Lanier

14. Gwenn Bogart

15. Matt Failor

16. Joar Leifseth Ulsom

17. Mark Selland

18. Mitch Seavey

19. Justin Savidis

20. Scott Janssen

21. Curt Perano

22. Jodi Bailey

23. Seth Barnes

24. Hugh Neff

25. Marcelle Fressineau

26. Nathan Schroeder

27. Linwood Fiedler

28. Paul Gebhardt

29. DeeDee Jonrowe

30. Lance Mackey

31. Rohn Buser

32. Aliy Zirkle

33. Yvonne Dabakk

34. Ray Redington Jr.

35. Ellen Halverson

36. Ken Anderson

37. Benjamin Harper

38. Charley Bejna

39. Anna Berington

40. Lev Shvarts

41. Lisbett Norris

42. Richie Diehl

43. Isabelle Travadon

44. Gerald Sousa

45. Jan Steves

46. Dallas Seavey

47. Becca Moore

48. Brian Bearss

49. Laura Allaway

50. Brian Wilmshurst

51. Philip Walters

52. Rick Casillo

53. Monica Zappa

54. Pete Kaiser

55. Mats Pettersson

56. Travis Beals

57. Allen Moore

58. Paige Drobny

59. Jeff King

60. Yuka Honda

61. Mike Santos

62. Christine Roalofs

63. Aaron Burmeister

64. Cindy Gallea

65. Wade Marrs

66. Steve Watkins

67. Chuck Schaeffer

68. Tim Hunt

69. Scott Smith

70. Jason Campeau

71. Brent Sass

72. Jason Mackey

73. Christian Turner

74. Katherine Keith

76. Heidi Sutter

77. Alan Stevens

78. John Baker

79. Zoya Denure

Contact staff writer Weston Morrow at 459-7520. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMschools.