In the 11-mile ceremonial start of the Iditarod race, the girls will each be riding a “whipsled” – which is a second sled pulled behind the main musher. The whipsled rider’s job is to help with a secondary brake and to lend a hand with the dogs. In this video, you can see Kristy Berington and her previous whipsled rider. You will also see a person riding in the basket of the musher’s sled – they are known as an “Iditarider” and they pay to ride – sometimes up to $7,500.00!
Here’s a great little video by Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey – giving you a beautiful snapshot of the race:
The Iditarod is the world’s most famous dog sled race – bring in racers from all over the world. It is an annual race that starts on the first Saturday of March in Anchorage, Alaska and ends in Nome, Alaska. The annual race crosses the Alaskan Range and runs along the Bering Sea.
- The Iditarod sled dog race is know as the “Last Great Race on Earth.”
- The ceremonial start begins in Anchorage. It’s an 11-mile event that winds through the streets for the fans and media.
- It is a race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer.
- It takes place in Alaska with temperatures sometimes reaching -40 below zero, and with winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility.
- Each musher starts the race with 16 dogs. The lead dogs are responsible for navigating the trail – which often gets blown over. They also do a lot of racing in the blackness of night so mushers must trust the leader immensely.
- In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for Nome, Alaska. The city was stricken with diphtheria and serum had to be brought in. Dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs were the ones to get the medicine through to Nome.
- Following the ceremonial start, the race usually begins in Wasilla, – although this year it will begin in Fairbanks due to lake of snow.
- The race route is alternated every other year, one year on a northern route and the next year on a southern. It ends in Nome where a hero’s welcome is the customary for the finishers.
- The mushers compete for $70,000 and a new truck.
- Each musher must have food flown ahead to to checkpoints and care for and feed their own dogs throughout the race. If a dog is injured or becomes sick during the race, volunteers will fly them back to a kennel in Anchorage for care.
- The race lasts between 9 to 15 days. It takes place the first Saturday in March.
- The Iditarod is named after the Iditarod Trail that the race takes place on. Iditarod is an Indian name meaning ‘clear water’.
- There are certain pieces of equipment each team must have. The musher must have an arctic parka, a heavy sleeping bag, an ax, snowshoes, musher food, dog food and boots for each dog’s feet. When the mushers pull into each checkpoint at night, the very first thing they do is care for and feed their dogs. With sixteen dogs, the mushers examine a total of 64 paws!
- Mushers mainly sleep outside with their dogs – but truly, they get little or no sleep during the race.
- Up until the point of the Iditarod, the mushers have spent years of training and feeding and getting to know each personality of each dog. More than anything, the mushers love their dogs and in return, the dogs feel a tremendous duty to run and do well.
- For more information on the Iditarod, go to http://www.Iditarod.com