This morning, Alaska’s 37th annual Iditarod began under sunny skies and a comfortable 15 degrees.
The annual 1,161 mile sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, can take anywhere from 8 to 15 days. The ceremonial start occurs in the city of Anchorage and is followed by the official restart in Willow, Alaska, located in south central Alaska. Teams of mushers and dogs (avg. 16) cover sparsely populated areas under extreme weather conditions, including blizzards, up to -100 degree wind chills). The Iditarod is regarded as a symbolic link to the early history of the state, and is connected to many traditions commemorating the legacy of dog mushing. Each year the trails switch between a northern & southern routes. The race is the most popular sporting event in Alaska.
The Iditarod commemorates one of the most famous events in the history of Alaska, the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy.” A diphtheria epidemic threatened Nome, especially the Inuit children who had no immunity to the “white man’s disease,” and the nearest quantity of antitoxin was found to be in Anchorage. With no other way to transport the serum, teams of dog sledders relayed the serum in five and a half days.