History of Iditarod
In 1925, a diphtheria epidemic threatened the town of Nome. The much needed serum was raced from Nenana to Nome by dog team. Twenty teams relayed the medicine 674 miles in 27.5 hours!
Today this historic event is commemorated with the world famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The competition starts in Anchorage on the first Saturday in March. The first musher arrives in Nome approximately 10-12 days later.
THE "LAST GREAT RACE"
You can't compare it to any other competitive event in the world! A race over 1049 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. She throws jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that the temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the IDITAROD! A RACE EXTRAORDINAIRE, a race only possible in Alaska.
From Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast, each team of 12 to 16 dogs and their musher cover over 1049 miles in about two.
Many people ask, "What does Iditarod mean?" In Libby Riddles' book Race Across Alaska, she reports that the early Athabascan Indians called their inland hunting ground Haiditarod, "the distant place." Later when gold was discovered in the same area the miners founded the town at the Indians hunting camp, which they spelled Iditarod. In 1910 the Alaska Roads Commission brushed out and marked a trail from Nome through Iditarod and on to Seward, the major seaport in southcentral Alaska. Originally called the Seward Trail, it later became known as the Iditarod Trail.
It has been called the "Last Great Race on Earth" and has won worldwide acclaim and interest. German, Spanish, British, Japanese and American film crews have covered the event. Journalists from outdoor magazines, adventure magazines, newspapers and wire services flock to Anchorage and Nome to record the excitement. It's not just a dog sled race ... it's a race in which unique men and women compete. Mushers enter from all walks of life... fishermen, lawyers, doctors, miners, artists, etc. Men and women enter each with their own story, each with their own reasons for going the distance. It's a race organized and run primarily by volunteers ... thousands of volunteers ... men and women, students and village residents. They man headquarters at Anchorage, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Juneau, Nome and Wasilla. They fly in dog food and supplies. They act as checkers, coordinators, veterinarians and family supporters for each musher.