The race, in some ways, is back to normal: Mushers are again dashing 1,000 miles to Nome.
Zirkle was flown to the Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage and has since been released from the hospital.
The race will use abandoned mining towns and other unpopulated areas as checkpoints this year.
The protective equipment is specifically for the hundred miles of trail through the Alaska Range, on past Rohn and into Nikolai. Jim Lanier has broken enough bones in the course of his mushing career to dress with precaution in mind.
“This is getting to be far enough into the race where you’re going to start seeing some people pushing the pace start to fall back a little bit,” said defending Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey.