1. This is the 40th running of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, known as “The Last Great Race on Earth.” It is run on a centuries old gold rush era trail. The Southern Route is used in odd number years. This year they will run the Northern Route. This year's (approximately) 975-mile competition starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome.
2. Sixty-six teams have qualified for the race, including 52 veteran mushers and 14 rookies. Sixteen women have qualified. The mushers come from five states and four countries. Thousands of volunteers, doing everything from working checkpoints, flying in dog food, to scooping poop, will give their time to make the event a success. Volunteer veterinarians selected from around the world are on hand to give the dogs the best care.
3. Over 1000 happy dogs, the rock stars of the sled dog world, will leave the starting line at the official start on Sunday. The maximum number of dogs allowed on a team is sixteen and the minimum number is twelve. Before the race all dogs are given a complete examination by veterinarians and tested for drugs. They are also subject to drug testing at any point until six hours after the team’s finish.
4. A purse of $550,000 is split among the first 30 finishers and a Red Lantern is awarded to the last musher to finish. The longest time for a Red Lantern was 32 days, 15 hours, 9 minutes and 1 second in 1973. The fastest time was set last year by John Baker, 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds.
5. Last year’s winner, John Baker, won $50,400 and a new truck, but he couldn’t drive the truck home. The first Inupiaq to win the race, he lives 33 miles north of the Arctic Circle where no roads connect to the rest of civilization. In December when there are no daylight hours he trains his dogs by headlamp. A nearby airport can land commercial planes to transport his team to Anchorage for the start of the race.
I know…I post this video every year. But I love it.
And have I mentioned lately that
before they were banned from the race,
Poodles once kicked Husky butt?