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There are few things harder than scaling Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain1. One of these things is completing the Iditarod. Read on to find out more about this daring sport.
You’re probably asking, “What is Iditarod?” It’s known as the Last Great Race on Earth2 and unlike other sports, it goes on for several days instead of a few hours. The team is made up of a driver called musher who gives commands to a group of 10-18 sled dogs. Teams must travel 1,049 miles with checkpoints along the way from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. In addition to the length of the race, the weather is rough over the challenging terrain which includes snow, mountains and narrow gorges. Even with all these obstacles, people still want to win the race for the top prize: up to $70,000 and a new pickup truck.
Next, let’s go into how the sport originated. Joe Redington founded the Iditarod race in 1973. Because of this, he was nicknamed The Founding Father of Iditarod. Joe Redington founded the race to remind people about the importance of sled dogs in Alaska3. Sled dogs were used for transportation, daily work, and they helped Eskimo Scouts patrol the state. When snowmachines and snowmobiles were invented, people used sled dogs less and less. Joe Redington hoped the race would bring attention to the sled dogs and reminds people that they are strong, intelligent and can hold many occupations.
Now, let’s go through some fun facts about Iditarod. Iditarod comes from an Ingalik word for a local river, Haiditarod, which means distant place. In the history of the race, the longest one took more than 32 straight days by John Shultz. If the snow melts, the race can have a different starting line or trails. The only dogs allowed to participate are Huskies and malamutes. This rule was created after John Suter allowed his poodles to participate in the competition. Not all dogs are allowed to race because their fur or hair may not be able to handle the cold weather. Besides the cold weather, another danger for the teams is moose. They have attacked some of the teams in previous races.4
Now that you know more about Iditarod, are you ready to give it a try? Over 1,000 miles, extremely cold weather and long days are not good enough? I bet $70,000, a new pickup truck and twelve super cute huskies as part of your team will change your mind.
1The Great Alone. Greg Kohs, Alkemy-X, 2015, documentary.
2 Iditarod Trail Committee, www.Iditarod.com, 2017.
3 Freedman, Lew, www.alaskasportshall.org/inductee/joe-redington-sr/ 2017.
4 Mcpherson, Angie, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140308-iditarod-dogs-sled-race-alaska-willow-science/ , 2014.