For the second year, Iditarod is facing less than ideal conditions.

Iditarod danger for dogs low snow levels
Credit: Getty Images/First Light

Let there be snow! Well, that’s what the organizers and participants of the world’s largest and longest dog sledding competition, Iditarod, are praying for anyway. That’s because for the second year in a row, record low snow levels in Anchorage—which is the ceremonial starting point for “The Last Great Race On Earth"—have been cause for some concern.

"Our real challenge right now is trying to figure out whether we've got adequate snow to make Anchorage and the ceremonial start happen," Iditarod Chief Executive Officer Stan Hooley said. The actual start of the race, held 50 miles north of Anchorage in Willow, is curently under review by race organizers who are considered moving it even farther north to the city of Fairbanks for the second year in a row.

Considered to be the largest and best-known sporting competition in the state, the Iditarod trail covers 1,000 miles of terrain with contenders battling freezing temperatures as they traverse across jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, and desolate tundras. The prize for such ardor: the first-place “musher” (dog-sledder) takes home a $70,000 prize. “We’re pretty confident in where we’re going to officially start the race. In terms of that all-important ceremonial start, we’ve got work to do,” Hooley said.

Michelle Gross is a Freelance Producer at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @mtothegnyc.