On the Trail of the Iditarod

On the Trail of the Iditarod

Following Alaska's premier race.

I'm not sure what makes a person wake up in the morning and decide to traverse 1,150 miles over some of this continent's most unforgiving terrain, but I must admit I feel admiration for those who take on the challenge. The Iditarod begins in Anchorage and ends in Nome, covering mountains, rivers and icy tundra.

The trail of the Iditarod is steeped in history. It began as a humble supple trail for early settlers in the Alaska territory. It took on historical significance in 1925 when a diphtheria outbreak nearly obliterated Nome. The Iditarod trail allowed medication to reach the population, saving lives and the town.

 

Today the Iditarod is a historic trail and home to the last great race on Earth. Man and dog trains year-round for this one great race, and not all make it to the finish line. In fact, survival isn't even guaranteed. Rest stations along the trail allow for a night's rest or a warm break, while also providing safe accommodations in bad weather. Sometimes rest is enforced, with mushers not allowed to leave until they get the all clear for the rest point doctors or veterinarians.

 

The Iditarod is not just a man's sport. Libby Riddles was the first woman to win the Iditarod in 1985, but she is not the only female winner or competitor. On the vast trail gender doesn't matter, only hard work, steel resolve and a good team of dogs can get you to the end. Even the competitors that finish but don't place are hailed as heroes – facing challenges that the rest of us couch potatoes can't even imagine.