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The Iditarod

March 20th, 2011

photo credit: Creative Commons/Flickr user Alaskan Dude

It’s called the Last Great Race and also considered by some to be the toughest race on Earth. The Iditarod is a dog sledding race held in Alaska each year on the first Saturday of March, where a team of Husky dogs and their driver (called a musher) go on an over 1,150 mile ride in some of the most remote and challenging territory in the world.  It is extremely beautiful but it is also difficult and dangerous .

John Baker, 2011 Iditarod winner

For the first time in 35 years, an Alaskan native has won the Iditarod. John Baker beat the record by over four hours. It took him 8 days, 19 hours, 46 minutes days to complete the race (that’s over 100 miles a day!). The race begins ceremonially in the city of Anchorage, but actually starts the next day in Wasilla, and goes through towns that have populations as little as 2 … and even 0! It ends in Nome (population 3,500) near the Bering Sea coast.

In 1925, dogsleds used part of the route as a kind of highway to deliver mail and supplies as well as medicines to Nome, and was the most effective way to get through.  It was developed as an idea for a sledding race in 1973. The mushers compete for over $50,000 and a new truck. Each musher can have between 12-16 dogs for the race and must be well taken care of.

For some great photos, visit the Iditarod’s  official photographer’s website .

And you can take a fun little quiz from National Geographic kids here .

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