Get your mush on with the start of the world famous 1,000 mile long Iditarod Sled Dog race. It starts on the first Saturday in March.
The teams average 16 dogs, which means over 1,000 dogs could leave the starting line. Each musher can start with a maximum of 16 dogs down to a minimum of 12 dogs and can finish with as few as six dogs.
The race pits man and animal against nature and wild Alaska at her best. The race replays Alaska’s colorful history along the 1,000 mile route.
Sled dog racing is the only professional sport where men and women compete equally; there are no men’s and women’s divisions. Over the years, mushers, or drivers have ranged in age from 18 to 86 years old.
The route encompasses large metropolitan areas and small native villages. It causes a yearly spurt of activity, increased airplane traffic and excitement to areas otherwise quiet and dormant during the long Alaskan winter. Everyone gets involved, from very young school children to the old-timers who relive the colorful Alaskan past they’ve known as they watch each musher and his team. The race is an educational opportunity and an economic stimulus to these small Alaskan outposts.
HOW TO OBSERVE
Track the race. Go to the official Iditarod Website to get the app.
Watch the race. To stream the race, go to https://iditarod.com/musher/iditarod-live-coverage.
Visit the race. The state of Alaska and private companies organize and host Iditarod Tours. The Nome Convention and Visitors Bureau has a website page with links to help plan an Iditarod spectator vacation.
The first official Iditarod Race began on March 3, 1973, with 34 teams. In the end, 22 teams finished 32 days later.
The Iditarod Race is based on the centuries-old tradition of dog sledding through the mountainous wilderness on the trail. It marks the memory of historic dog sled treks and life-saving runs such as the 1925 Serum Run. In that 1925 run, 20 drivers carried 300,000 doses of a serum to Nome to help save children who were dying of diphtheria. They mushed 625 miles in one week with the serum.
Portions of the Iditarod Trail were used by the Native Alaskan Eskimo peoples hundreds of years before the arrival of Russian fur traders in the 1800s, but the trail reached its peak between the late 1880s and the mid-1920s as miners arrived to dig coal and later gold, especially after the Alaska gold rushes at Nome in 1898.
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