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The 2010 Iditarod is still ongoing, with mushers completing the 1,110 mile dog sled race from Anchorage to Nome, but the race for first ended Tuesday evening, when Lance Mackey crossed the finish line. The cancer survivor became the first ever to win The Last Great Race in four consecutive years. As we say goodbye to Alaska's frozen wilderness for another year, we offer some of our favorite pictures from the past 10 days (via Alaska Dispatch unless otherwise noted).
At the ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage. (Photo by Brian Weeks/ www.bdweeks.com)
John Baker, who finished in fifth place, leaves the start line during the ceremonial start of the 2010 Iditarod. (Photo by Stephen Nowers/Alaska Dispatch)
A sled dog eyes his meal before the restart in Willow. (Photo by Tess Millard)
Dog teams take a break at the Nikolai checkpoint on Tuesday, March 9. (Photo by Stephen Nowers/Alaska Dispatch)
Gerry Willomitzer arrives at the Ruby checkpoint on Friday, March 13. Willomitzer is currently in 10th place. (Stephen Nowers/Alaska Dispatch)
Lance Mackey accomplished what was once thought to be impossible, becoming the first musher ever to win four consecutive Iditarods, pulling into Nome Tuesday afternoon as the winner of the 38th running of The Last Great Race.
The first to cross finish line were Mackey's lead dogs, Rev and Maple (two of his 11 with which he finished), both of whom have done this before, which helped during the final leg.
Dogs that have raced the Iditarod and made it to Nome are invaluable, because they know where the finish line is, and the really want to get there. A veteran leader can, and will, speed the team up to reach the finish line.
As he has does near the end of every win, Mackey stopped before the final victory stretch just outside of Nome, and took time to individually thank all of his dogs.
Mackey, who beat throat cancer in 2001, is now easily considered one of the greatest dog mushers of this era. Just how good is he? Fellow musher Hugh Neff said it best: "He could take your dogs and beat his team with your dogs. That's how good of a musher he is."
Front Street in downtown Nome was crowded, where it was a comfortbale 10 degrees, with people lining the chute on either side leading up to the finish. The celebration is expected to last for some time.
The announcer adds that Mackey is one of the most gregarious and personable mushers ever to run the Iditarod; he's been a fixture at the finish since the age of 2. Given the crowd size, the announcer says, this is going to be "the people's finish" of the Iditarod. Those who want to get a photo, an autograph, a hug, are almost sure to be satisfied.
Sleep is the great equalizer in the Iditarod. Everyone needs it -- both the mushers and dogs -- but the team that can get by on the least amount is usually the first to cross the finish line in Nome. As a result, mushers often push themselves past normal human limits, often getting just three hours of sleep over a 24-hour period. Eventually, after suffering through this for a week straight (and longer), the mind begins to go ...
It's seemingly not a matter of if the hallucenations will start, but when.
Dee Dee Jonrowe, three-time runner-up in the Iditarod, holds fastest time ever turned in by a woman:
Yes, the most common hallucination is seeing sticks and branches and dodging/ducking from them when I am out in the open on rivers and there are no sticks or branches to be seen. I remember seeing a grain storage silo on the Yukon River one year, it was such a strange thing to see.
Emmitt Peters, the last rookie ever to win an Iditarod, in 1975:
"All mushers do that," Peters said. "They just hate to say that, but I know -- it runs through my experience."
He remembers a time when he ran going from Shaktoolik to Koyuk, and he thought he was meeting up with a snowmachine.
"So I turned my light on to see who was there, but there I am -- talking to a chunk of ice," Peters said. "So that stuff goes on in the driver's mind."
More from Emmitt Peters:
'You know, I was mushing along out there and kept drifting in and out of sleep. 'When I slept, I dreamed about mushing dogs. And then I'd wake up and be mushing dogs.
After a while, it got all jumbled together: dream dogs, real dogs. Dream race, real race. Until it got so I couldn't tell the difference no more. Couldn't tell where the dream left off and the real began,' said the Yukon Fox. 'I was just floating.'"
Lance Mackey, set to win a record fourth-straight Iditarod:
On Thursday night, he was riding the sled and saw a girl sitting by the side of the trail doing something, probably knitting.
"She laughed at me, waved, and I went by her and she was gone," Mackey said of his hallucination. "You just laugh."
Martin Buser, fourt-time Iditarod champion:
Race leader Martin Buser Sunday was on the part of the trail where he has faced some of his strangest Iditarod moments. 'I've seen villages, freight trains and cabins that were not there.'"
Who needs actual hallucinogens? Just spend a week and a half without sleep in the Alaskan wilderness.
While you will most likely never experience 30-below zero temperatures during the middle of the afternoon -- so cold that your skin starts to burn if it touches metal -- or the feeling of complete isolation while alone in the middle of Alaska's winter, Aliy Zirkle, a musher in the 2010 Iditarod, is doing her best to at least give you a taste of what it's like.
Zirkle, is currently running in 11th place, and she brought a camera along for the ride.
In this first video, documenting her run from Ophir to Cripple, Zirkle takes a rest along the side of the trail (cue adorable shots of her dogs sleeping), notes that it is "20 or 30 below," points out a couple of dogs who are running slow, and overall does a great job of showing just how middle-of-the-nowhere she really is.
In her second video, on the final part of the trail into the Ruby checkpoint (which admittedly doesn't really get interesting until around the 2:40 mark), Zirkle offers a good shot of her frozen face, her commanding a a team of 12 dogs with just a couple of words, stopping to untangle her team (a process during which she almost loses her sled) and then finally arriving at the checkpoint on the Yukon River.
Lance Mackey flew into the Elim checkpoint Monday afternoon, and just as quickly, he was gone again, extending his lead to more than three hours in the 2010 Iditarod over four-time champion Jeff King, who dropped to third.
Mackey, who is often talkative at checkpoints, had little to say to reporters. He signed someone's hat, shooed away a kid who stepped through his team, and sipped coffee from a foam cup (instant Starbucks with cream and sugar provided by one of the checkers; they said they're prepared to provide the same service to other mushers who come through).
Once King arrived to Elim, he all but conceded the race to Mackey, saying he wouldn't be able to catch him unless he made a mistake. "We'll see if he steps on his cape or somebody else finds a rocket launcher and takes him down."
King added, "I won't -- I can't --do what he's doing."
"We have 24 hours to go. We'll see if he steps on his cape or if somebody else finds a rocket launcher and takes him down," King said.
Some news from the Iditarod that everyone can appreciate: Whitey-Lance, the sled dog who had been missing in the Alaskan wilderness, finally showed up late Sunday night after spending more than four days alone in the sub-zero temperatures.
The three-year old was "noticeably thinner" and had suffered a few injuries, seemingly acquired days spent walking through the woods, but otherwise was is good health. Whitey was ultimately rescued with the aid of some salmon.
[T]he dog was skittish whenever anyone approached and at first didn't recognize Savidis, who was wearing snowmachine goggles.
But someone then produced a salmon carcass, something even a skittish dog couldn't resist.
"At first, he was a little startled by my goggles, said Savidis, who quickly removed them. "I said, 'Hey, Whitey' and he was like, 'Ah, I remember you.' "
Whitey, a dog of rookie musher Justin Savidis, went missing somewhere between the checkpoints of Nikolai and McGrath after he wrestled free of his harness and escaped early Wednesday morning. During the nearly five days he was loose in the wild, Whitey covered almost 50 miles, "scavenging for snacks left behind by mushers."
Savidis, along with help from local residents, Alaska State Troopers and the Iditarod Air Force, searched for his dog by plane, snowmachine and foot.
Here's how Justin Savidis's wife, Rebecca, told the story on their blog, Snowhook Kennel.
I received another phone call from [Justin] with a very different tone. “Whitey’s sitting on my lap right now,” was all he said and my tears started flowing. Dog and musher were scheduled to be on the last flight in tonight ...
Whitey was lured in by a bite of salmon. While Whitey gave into the needs of his empty stomach, AJ wrapped his arms around Whitey and didn’t let go. From there, and truer to form Whitey-Lance stayed by [Justin's] side all the way home ... As hugs were given, and words of encouragement were spoken, Whitey-Lance closed his eyes and fell asleep. Whitey is slumbering in our house tonight, but until he fell asleep he went from [Justin’s] lap to my lap and back again.
Lance Mackey, the three-time defending champion of the Iditarod, is the newest leader of the 2010 race, reaching the Shaktoolik checkpoint first. Right behind him is four-time champion Jeff King, who arrived just 37 minutes later.
Mackey took the lead from King at the Kaltag checkpoint, when Mackey did what Mackey does best -- ignore sleep and just keep racing.
Pulling into the checkpoint of Kaltag mid-Saturday, Mackey wanted to know two things: Did King, who was at that point of the race running ahead of Mackey, already leave? And if he did leave, did he take hay? Hay would mean he was planning to camp along the way, while leaving without it would signal he was planning a straight run for Unalakleet.
When Mackey learned King was still in the village, he stayed just seven minutes before moving on.
"It shouldn't be any real surprise to anybody that I just did that," said Mackey, noting that his trademark is to make long runs on minimal rest. "I am totally willing to gamble any time, any day."
But it's a gamble he practices for, often training his dogs at random times to help them become adjusted to the musher's unpredictable racing style. However, the question still remains whether or not his team will be able to keep going at this pace -- right now, Mackey is ahead of Martin Buser's record time.
"I have to go with what the dogs are wanting to do at the time," said Mackey, adding that in Nulato the team was charged up and ran out as though leading at the starting line.
King is skeptical Mackey can hold the lead. He thinks Mackey's team will fizzle as the race intensifies. And even if it doesn't there's always Plan B: cut time for resting.
The leaders are now racing along the coast of the Norton Sound, where temperatures are consistently below zero and hurricane-force winds and ground blizzards are common, with less than 200 more miles until the finish line in Nome.
If you ever compete in the Iditarod (surely it's on your to-do list), aim to be the first musher to reach the checkpoint of Ruby. Not only would it mean you were a race-favorite, but you'd also get to enjoy some fine-dining on the Yukon River.
King chose a long-time handler and friend as his dining partner. Sitting down, King rubbed his hands together and said, "Alright man, glad to be here. What's for dinner?"
Then he donned a large, yellow napkin, tucking it into his collar, and allowed himself to be served a glass of wine. He said that he was looking forward to getting some rest and that the wine would probably help. Then the diners toasted: "To Iditarod 2010, the best one ever."
Not a bad way to help forget that it was 38 degrees below zero outside.
In addition to the meal, the first one to Ruby collects a $3,500 cash prize, awarded in stacks of singles (again, race tradition).
Newton Marshall remembers the first time he ever saw snow. Because for the Iditarod rookie, it was just four years ago.
"I didn’t know what to expect ... I knew it would be cold but thought it would be like a rainy day in Jamaica. On the first day they pulled me on a snowmobile -- my first time in the snow -- it was freezing and very shocking and I thought I was going to fly; so amazing to see dogs move that fast."
Marshall is the first Jamaican ever to run in the Iditarod, which probably doesn't surprise you. What may surprise you, though, is that he's actually pretty good at this dog mushing thing. In his first attempt, he completed the Yukon Quest, a sled dog race from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon, which is considered even harder than the Iditarod, earning it the title "toughest race in the world."
"He works very, very hard at his craft," says Chas St. George, spokesman for the Iditarod. "He ran the 2009 Yukon Quest, and as a rookie he finished that race. It's a 1,000-mile race. Many rookies who later on in their careers have run all kinds of races have failed to finish that particular race."
He's come a long way from his mushing start, when he was with fellow Jamaican Danny Melville shopping for dune buggies and happened across a sled with wheels used for training dogs on dry land. Shortly thereafter, the Jamaican Doglsed Team was born, thanks to some funding from one Jimmy Buffett.
Singer Jimmy Buffett is among Marshall's strongest supporters. "He's absolutely a hero to kids in Jamaica," Buffett said.
Buffett's Margaritaville restaurants are key sponsors for Marshall's dog-sled team, and the famed songwriter says he did not hesitate to back Marshall after learning of his story. Buffett first heard of the Jamaican after meeting Danny Melville, who runs a family-owned tour business in Jamaica where Marshall was employed as a guide.
"I thought from the beginning it was just very cool what he was doing," Buffett said. "I thought it was so far out there, but it made people smile when they heard about it."
While Marshall began training in his home country with dogs from the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (a plot you may have seen in "Sun Dogs"), he now runs with a team of dogs borrowed from three-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey's kennel.
Marshall is currently in 54th place (out of 71 total entries), and at the Ophir checkpoint, where the windchill is -14 degrees. But really, just finishing would be an accomplishment. "I don't see any big worries. I just can't wait to get there," he says. "I'm planning on finishing the race."
We at SBNation.com would like to acknowledge the talent behind the Iditarod by interviewing the dogs who make the race possible. Each has their own personality, and we salute their individual spirit and collective achievement in "Profiles in Tenacity: Get To Know An Iditarod Sled Dog."
Today's Profile of an Iditarod Sled Dog: Ted, The Frat Bro Sled Dog.
Name: Ted, the Frat Boy Sled Dog.
Position: Back left, cause he's still not up to alpha dog status, but at least he's not a pledge, man.
Nicknames: Ted-errino, Teddy, Ted-day, Shawn of the Ted, Secretary of Ted-ucation, The Ted Offensive, Judge Ted, the Grateful Ted, The Ted-u-cator, Ted-die Murphy, Ted-die Van Halen, The Ted-itorialist, Head Full of Tedlocks, T-dawg, T-rakes, T-Diddy, Theodore Hoe-sevelt, T The Movie, T The Theme Park Ride, T The Fragrance for men, T-rannosaurus Sex, T-Pain.
Likes: Running with my boys on some gnar-gnar powder. Some primo cuddle time in the snow with a fine bitch. PARTIES. Workin' out my chesticles before spring break. Jager. Yeah, Jager. Quoting Anchorman. (Favorite movie ever.) Studying <---LOL JUST KIDDING. Doing it all for Alpha Rho Phi, bro. Playing my acoustic guitar outside on a nice spring day. South Padre Island. Vineyard Vines Bathing Suits.
Dislikes: Haters. Dorks. Losing my croakies, because then my sunglasses might fall off. Girls who think they're all that. People who don't like Badfish or Widespread Panic. Beer snobs. Brosephs who take forever on the leg press. I mean come on, bro: the rest of the world needs to do calf raises, too. Moose, who really just need to chill for once. Cold streams, because it means I can't wear my flops on the trail. When not everyone is pre-gaming as hard as I am, cause you gotta pre-game before you game, you know?
Goals for the Iditarod: Drop some ell-bees, 'cause spring break's coming up and I've been hitting the 12 oz curls a little too hard lately. Maybe get some under-the-snow time with Sheila up in second row left, because she's one fine bitch. I mean no disrespect by that, because that is the proper term for her, but she is fine AMIRITE BRO?
/offers paw for paw-bump
I'm just kidding, man. I just wanna have a sweet time and maybe get in shape for lacrosse season.
Frat boy sled dog Ted is doing fine as his team approaches the halfway point, and is totally pumped about the breakfast burritos he heard they had at Takotna.
The Iditarod is the only event in the world where the following announcement actually makes sense:
Is this your sled dog?
Volunteers caught it running loose this morning. Please stop by the community center to claim your dog. There are also breakfast burritos.
Here's a picture of the dog in question.
Don't forget: breakfast burritos.
Dallas Seavey, a
22 23-year old running just his fourth Iditarod, was the first musher to reach the halfway checkpoint of Cripple, checking into the abandoned gold-mining town at 5:26 a.m. ET Thursday morning. His reward: $3,000 in gold nuggets. Which is nice, but probably doesn't do a lot to keep you warm when it's -33 degrees.
John Baker and Martin Buser are the only other two teams that have reached Cripple so far, but some of the best mushers in the world are closing in.
Four-time champion Jeff King of Denali Park led the charge out of the ghost town of Ophir at 3 a.m. after finishing his mandatory 24-hour layover. King dropped one dog, leaving him with 15.
Before 5 a.m., Hugh Neff of Tok, Sebastian Schnuelle of Whitehorse, Mitch Seavey of Sterling [Dallas' dad], Sven Haltmann of Willow and Zach Steer of Sheep Mountain had followed King out with fresh teams of at least 14 dogs.
And they'll all need their teams as rested as can be -- the run from Ophir to Cripple, and then Cripple to Ruby, goes through some of the "most desolate terrain on the Iditarod Trail." Which is saying something.
Behind the first two groups, another pack of mushers who took their 24-hour rests in Takotna were back on the trail, too. In that group were five-time champion Rick Swenson, and former runners-up Paul Gebhardt and DeeDee Jonrowe, joined by Ken Anderson of Fox, Jason Barron of Lincoln, Mont., and Ryan Redington of Wasilla.
Winner of the past three Iditarods, Lance Mackey, was out of Ophir in 11th place, but is down to just 13 dogs.
While the select few favorites and contenders are busy battling it out to be the first to cross the finish line in Nome, like most distance events, there is a whole other race taking place in the back of the pack, where rookies and other Iditarod amateurs are hoping just to finish the grueling 1,100-mile trek.
It's from there, a handful of checkpoints behind the race leaders, that Craig Medred is reporting, detailing "the real life struggles of ordinary people when they cash in everything to chase their dream of becoming an Iditarod dog musher."
Like Karin Hendrickson, who trained just as long and as hard as all the other mushers -- she described herself as "being constantly broke, constantly tired." Her team of dogs is experienced, strong and healthy. So why was she crying on Tuesday?
But she did want to race, and she did until somewhere just outside of Finger Lake. Then she broke the runners on her sled. "I'm going across this flat area,'' she said, "and then I hear this crunch, crunch.''
That was the sound of the runners snapping beneath her feet. Eventually the entire rear compartment of her tail-dragger sled broke off, leaving her with a problem. She still had the good half of a dog sled, but it wasn't big enough to carry her dog food and gear.
She waited, and waited, hoping another team would decide to quit, and then give her their now unneeded sled. But that good fortune never came, forcing Hendrickson to drop out.
Luckily, she was never injured. Rookie musher Pat Moon was not so fortunate. Moon, just six miles away from the Rohn checkpoint, crashed head-first into a tree, though he doesn't remember it happening. As he sat in the E.R. of an Anchorage hospital, Moon, after listing his injuries and suffering from a concussion, was most upset with the feeling that he let down his dogs.
Leaderboard Update: John Baker is the first, and only, musher to have left the Ophir checkpoint, and is currently leading as of 4:30 p.m. ET. Five other mushers are still in Ophir, a ghost town some 668 miles from Nome.
Led by four-time Iditarod winner Jeff King, mushers began leaving the Nikolai checkpoint starting shortly after 7 p.m. ET Tuesday night. Within 27 minutes, three other mushers were hot on his trail: last year's second-place finisher Sebastian Schnuelle, John Baker and 2004 champion Mitch Seavey.
In recent years, the winner of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has come from among the frontrunners into Nikolai, the village at the far end of the Farewell Burn.
This year, the group was more a herd than a pack. By 3:06 p.m. Tuesday, 21 mushers were parked in Nikolai. Most had made the 80-mile run from Rohn in under 11 hours. Many had 15 or 16 dogs in harness.
The teams are leaving behind Nikolai, a town of around 100 people along the Kuskokwim River where the only "roads" are snowmachine tracks. On Tuesday, the tiny village became "a parking lot for sleds and snoozing dog teams" in the afternoon.
The leaders are now on their way to McGrath, which with its population of around 347 people, is one of the bigger stops on the trail. Because of this, it's where most mushers choose to take their mandatory 24-hour rest. Well that, and the $0.25 showers -- a quarter buys you six minutes of a hot shower.
And now, here's a picture of one of the sled dogs in Nikolai, resting on its straw bed.
German Sebastian Schnuelle retook the lead of the 2010 Iditarod somewhere between the checkpoints of Rohn and Nikolai early Tuesday morning, and was the first musher to reach Nikolai, a town of roughly just 100 people.
Schnuelle, 2009's runner-up, checked in at 1:47 p.m. ET with all 16 dogs, and was closely followed by 2004 winner Mitch Seavey (37 minutes behind) and four-time champion Jeff King (65 minutes back).
All three made speedy work of the Burn, which snowmachiners and race watchers had worried would challenge teams because of a lack of snow in some sections.
But King made the 80-mile run in eight hours, 27 minutes -- averaging nearly 9 mph on trail that got a dusting of light snow overnight, according to the National Weather Service. Seavey was slightly slower, while Schnuelle was 1 1/2 mph slower but may have stopped to rest his full team of 16 dogs en route.
Another group of eight mushers checked-in within an hour of each other, beginning with John Baker, just six minutes behind King. The winner of the past three races, Lance Mackey, checked in at 3:30 p.m. ET in eighth place, moving up eight spots during the run through Farewell Burn.
Of note: the current windchill in Nikolai is -21. Fun times. And this is still considered one of the more enjoyable stops on the route, because it offers the mushers a chance to rest ... on the comfort of high school wrestling mats.
Traditionally, mushers rest here about 6 hours, taking advantage of good food and comfortable wrestling mats set up in the public school gymnasium. But Mackey and others have broken that pattern in the last couple of years, taking off after four hours, or less. Schnuelle hinted he might do something like that while he massaged ointment into a few of his dogs' shoulders.
Next up is a boring 54-mile stretch to McGrath, which is best attacked at night, when the dogs will run faster.
We at SBNation.com would like to acknowledge the talent behind the Iditarod by interviewing the dogs who make the race possible. Each has their own personality, and we salute their individual spirit and collective achievement in "Profiles in Tenacity: Get To Know An Iditarod Sled Dog." Today's Profile of an Iditarod Sled Dog: Gavin, The Unusually Stylish Hipster Sled Dog.
Position: Second right, which isn't lead but that's cool because I'm chlll like that.
Age: Four years old, but age ain't nothing but a number.*
Likes: Jansport backpacks, his personal brand, Phoenix, Animal Collective, Fever Ray, Vegan brownies, and sometimes caribou carrion but only if it's paleo caribou carrion, since the ones who live close to cities eat out of garbage dumps and that's not healthy. Parliament cigarettes and Natty Bo, because PBR is played out. Chill dog-bros and bro-ettes who like a good mush. Beards. Seattle, because it's so nineties in a non-intentional way. Trader Joe's chicken liver treats. Snow. Tofurky, but not like every day. MySpace, because it's the new retro.
Dislikes: The term "hipster," dubstep, Anchorage (too granola,) rain, "political" bros, losing my scarf on the trail, Apple people though I own a Mac (just not freaky about it,) people who don't understand my gluten allergy, "sincerity," when the dog-bro in front of you has a "digestive problem," Germans (sorry!), goatees, moose and their hatefulness, tofurky every day, cynicism, and a sledmeister who packs cheap chow, because I only eat organic. Losing my scarf and not having my handler stop to get it.
Goals for the Iditarod: Just get a good mush, maybe finish up A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius in the downtime but it's mad long, get along and have a good time with my bro-dawgs, crack out some beats on the vintage Roland TR-808 drum machine I got, and just, you know, chill.
Gavin is currently past mile 84 with his team. We wish him the best of luck and a good mush.
*Is actually six.
German Sebastian Schnuelle, last year's runner-up, is currently second in the Iditarod XXXVIII, and was the first to make it to the Rohn checkpoint, arriving with all 16 dogs at 10:52 p.m. ET Monday night. Paul Gebhardt, the first out of Rohn, leaving at 12:32 a.m. ET early Tuesday morning, is the leader.
Rohn is a former site of a roadhouse for dog teams traveling with mail, some 272 miles from Anchorage, but still 840 miles away from the finish in Nome. Schnuelle spent almost five hours there resting, while Gebhardt stayed just 17 minutes before continuing on. While they rarely sleep and usually only stop to let the dogs rest, every musher must take one 24-hour rest and two eight-hour layovers at some point during the race.
The current leg of the race, Rohn to Nikolai, is one of the longer sections of the course, at 75 miles between checkpoints.
This run breaks into three natural sections: 20 miles along the south side of the South Fork of the Kuskokwim from Rohn to Farewell Lakes and up onto the Farewell Burn, 35 miles across the Burn itself to Sullivan Creek, and then 20 miles north from Sullivan Creek past Salmon River to Nikolai.
Currently it is -6 degrees in Nikolai, with a windchill of -25 and falling snow.
Lance Mackey, winner of the past three races, is currently 15th, having left the Rohn checkpoint roughly six hours after the leader Gebhardt.
The Iditarod -- the "Last Great Race On Earth" -- is an annual race from Anchorage to Nome, covering over 1,100 mile through the cold, harsh, unforgiving Alaskan wilderness. The race aims to honor some of Alaska's pioneering and brave past.
The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome. Mail and supplies went in. Gold came out. All via dog sled. Heroes were made, legends were born.
In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Diphtheria threatened and serum had to be brought in; again by intrepid dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs.
The 2010 edition officially got underway on Sunday, after Saturday's ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage.
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