Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race 2023
This past Saturday kicked off the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. This has happened on the first Saturday in March since the first official start in 1973.
The trek is in Alaska and it spans 1,000 miles. The kick off is in Anchorage then the race officially starts in Willow Lake and ends in Nome, Alaska.
The actual course can vary from year to year but it crosses two mountain ranges, travels along the Yukon River and traverses frozen waterways. The weather is harsh and cold.
The land was actually first cleared in 1908 and marked by the Alaska Road Commission in 1911-1912. When sled dog teams first started the main focus traveling through harsh arctic weather conditions was for communication and transportation.
The competition of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race has attracted many participants and a lot of visibility over the years.
The race has both men and women competing. These men and women have been anywhere between 18 years old and 86 years old.
The sled dog team consists of the driver called a musher and between 12 and 16 dogs. The sled dogs are not just any dog of course. The dogs have a “natural fur” that can protect them.
According to the American Kennel Club the dogs used are Samoyed, Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies and Chinook. There is a lot of training and nutrition that go into these dogs in preparation.
In general, the race on average usually has about 63 teams. This 2023 race is the smallest so far with a total of 33 teams. There are nine rookie mushers and last year’s champion, Brent Sass among those teams.
It is a grueling journey but exciting and challenging. The winner earns around $50,000. The field is a bit smaller this year due to inflation and the rising cost of dog food among the factors.
It happens once a year and it’s truly amazing what these mushers and dogs accomplish.
Here is one place where you can follow the race: alaskapublic.org/Iditarod!
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