Libby Riddles

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Iditarod: The Last Great Race

In 1925 the Alaskan city of Nome was suffering from a diphtheria epidemic and badly needed vaccination. The nearest antitoxin was in Anchorage, Alaska and as the planes had never been flown in winter it was decided that the vaccination would be taken to Nome by dog-sled relay. On February 22nd at 5:30am Gunner Kaasen along with his lead dog Balto arrived in Nome with the vaccine. With that most mushers consider Leonhard Seppala and his dog Togo to be the heroes though as they were the ones to travel the most dangerous part of the trail. With the support of Joe Redington Sr. a memorial race was started in 1967, after some hick-ups and cancellations the true beginning of the Iditarod Race was in 1973. 34 mushers competed in the race, 22 of which finished the race.



Fast Facts:

  • There are 2 Iditarod routes. The North route (which is run on even numbered years) and the South route (which is run on odd numbered years.
  • Each team has an average of 16 dogs
  • Anchorage is the ceremonial start to the race, the actual start is in Willow the following day.
  • Through the race there are 25 checkpoints where each racer is required to stop.
  • At least once during the race each participant is required to have a 24 hour layover.
  • The longest race was won by Carl Huntington in 1974 with a time of 20 days, 15 hours, 2 minutes, and 7 seconds.
  • At the age of 25 Dallas Seavey is the youngest Iditarod champion.