At 9:30am (1:30pm ET), the 38th running of the Iditarod is set to begin. The 2010 edition of this “Last Great Race” features 71 mushers who will set off in Anchorage, Alaska, covering over 1,000 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. Days later, the first mushers will arrive at the end, in Nome, Alaska.
The temperature at start time looks to be around 3° fahrenheit. During the race, temperatures can span between 20° and -20° fahrenheit.
The race commemorates an event in early 1925 when a diphtheria epidemic threatened isolated, icebound Nome. The nearest serum was in Anchorage. With the only capable pilot not available, a Pony Express-type relay of dog teams was quickly organized. The serum arrived in time to prevent the epidemic and save hundreds of lives. The 20 mushers had covered almost 700 miles in little more than 127 hours (six days) in temperatures that rarely rose above 40° below zero and winds sometimes strong enough to blow over dogs and sleds.
Both male & female mushers have one the race. The winner of the 2009 Iditarod was Lance Mackey, with a winning time of 9 days, 21 hours, 38 minutes and 46 seconds with 15 dogs. He was awarded a prize of $69,000. All contestants are awarded a prize. The last musher to arrive in Nome is awarded the Red Lantern award. Started as a joke, the Red Lantern award has become an Alaskan tradition, a symbol of stick-to-itiveness in the mushing world.