Imagine running a race that covers 1000 miles through rough mountains, icy rivers, thick forests and frozen tundra. Then imagine running that impossible, long race in temperatures below zero, with fierce winds and blowing snow, with only a few hours of daylight each day. You can expect the race to take you from 8-15 days to complete.
Welcome to the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race!
The Iditarod, which begins on the first Saturday in March, is a race in which dog teams compete while pulling a sled driven by a “musher." Teams start the race with 16 dogs; some of the dogs will drop out by the end of the race due to exhaustion, illness, or poor performance. The mushers come from all walks of life, young and old, from many parts of the world and have trained and prepared themselves and their team of dogs for at least a year to be able to compete in these challenging conditions.
The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route. In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life-saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Historically, sled dogs were important in day to day life in the villages. Creators of the Iditarod race had two reasons for organizing it: to save the sled dog culture and Alaskan huskies, which were being phased out of existence due to the introduction of snowmobiles in Alaska, and to preserve the historic Iditarod Trail. Continued growth of the event shows that these goals are being reached.
· The most popular breed of dog used in the Iditarod is the Alaskan husky.
· Teams are required to make three rest stops along the route; one 24-hour stop and two 8-hour stops. For the rest of the race, mushers and dogs get little, if any sleep.
· The current record for fastest finish is held by Dallas Seavey, age 57, set in 2017. He finished in 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds.
Togo by Robert J. Blake