Michelle Phillips ready for 2021 Iditarod

The 2021 Iditarod starts on March 7 at 2 p.m. local time outside Willow, Alaska. The traditional ceremonial start in Anchorage, Alaska, was cancelled in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s field is a little smaller than usual at 47 entries, but what’s very noticeable is the lack of non-Americans.

Phillips and Alberta’s Aaron Peck are the only Canadians in the field. Mille Porsild and Joar Leifseth Ulsom are the only mushers from outside North America.

Last year’s winner, Thomas Waerner, did not make the trip back from Norway to defend his title.

Of the 47 mushers competing in the Iditarod, all but 12 are veterans – including past winners Pete Kaiser, Ulsom, Dallas Seavey, and Martin Buser.

Phillips had her best finish in 2020, finishing 13th. That matched her previous best from 2017.

All told, she’s finished the race 10 times, only finishing outside the top 20 three times.

This year’s race is also different in that it will both start and end in Willow, rather than racing to Nome, Alaska.

It’s a busy week overall for Tagish Lake Kennel, as Phillips’ partner Ed Hopkins was set to race in the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race as was handler Aiyana O’Shaughnessy. Hopkins did not start the race, but O’Shaughnessy did.

While Yukon Sports Report is focused on the Percy this weekend, we’ll keep you up to date on Phillips and her efforts at the Iditarod.