Iditarod mushes off from Anchorage Alaska Alaska’s unique dog sled race mushed off from the streets of Anchorage today. The race covers the historic Iditarod Trail that runs from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. It was a lifeline for early settlers with dog sleds bringing much needed supplies and in one case the serum to stem a diphtheria outbreak in Nome.
In early Alaska, natives used dog sleds in the winter to travel and maintained a network of trails throughout the state. When settlers rushed to the state during the gold rush in the early 1900’s they too found that the only practical way to get around in the winter was by dog sled.
But by 1925 with gold finds becoming scarce and plane travel increasing, the mail contracts went to the airplane and the trail gradually fell into disuse. In many places the forest and tundra reclaimed the pathways. Even the packs of Alaskan husky dogs became fewer and fewer. The invention of the snowmobile threatened to put paid to the sled dogs much like the automobile and tractor pushed horses out of the fields and streets.
People in Alaska organized to revive the trail and save the husky breed. In 1973 the first Iditarod dog sled race was run and one has been held ever since. It has revived interest in the breed and inspired a competitive outdoor spirit among the mushers. Thousands turn out to watch the dogs and sleds along the route.
This is a race where women stand an equal chance of winning and they have in the past. Every year is a tough slog only for those that thrive testing themselves and their dogs. This year’s race will certainly do it. Changes needed to be made as Anchorage is too warm for snow this year, leaving the trail bare so organizers have moved the official start to Fairbanks 225miles(362 km) where it is colder. Included in this year’s route is 600 miles of frozen river with all its attendant dangers.