The 2012 Iditarod is almost here, and the annual event will begin on Saturday. The Alaskan sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome has taken place every March since 1973, and the race is one of the most notable endurance races in the world. Each solo competitor ("musher") will be pulled by a team of 12-16 dogs and will take between nine and 15 days to complete the journey.
The race has its roots in a race held in 1967 and 1968 that was conceived of as a way to celebrate the centennial of Alaska becoming a U.S. territory. The race evolved into its current form in 1973 and has been Alaska's most popular sporting event ever since.
The 2012 race will feature more than 60 mushers competing to finish the race in the shortest time.The record for the fastest time was set just last year, when John Baker crossed the finish line in eight days, 19 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds. Baker will be competing again in this year's race. Each year, mushers need to concern themselves with possible whiteout conditions and temperatures that can reach -100 degrees Fahrenheit when windchill is factored in.
Rick Swenson, who will also be competing this year, holds the record for most Iditarod wins with five victories stretched out between 1977 and 1991. Lance Mackey is another returning champion and record holder. He holds the all-time record for most consecutive Iditarod wins, taking home the trophy four times from 2007-2010. He saw his chance at extending his record and tying Swenson as the all-time wins leader snapped by Baker's record time in 2011.
One thing is certain: the race will not lack for drama.
If you wanted to check out profiles of the participants in the race, or learn everything there is to know about the 2012 Iditarod, you can visit the official website by clicking right here.