As many of you know we are big fans of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and all the pretty sled dogs, even though Poodles are no longer allowed to race.
Known as "the last great race on Earth," the ceremonial start begins the first Saturday in March in downtown Anchorage with fans lining the streets and trails to cheer on the dogs and the mushers.
Two days later, the official race will begin in Fairbanks on Monday, March 6, at 11 a.m. There are 72 mushers signed up to run the 2017 Iditarod, 17 women and 55 men, including five previous Iditarod champions.
The entry fee was $4,000 this year, but that doesn't include the thousands of dollars in gear, supplies, food and transportation costs.
The veterinarians give thorough examinations of the dogs before the race. After the race begins, they are flown to the various checkpoints where they examine the dogs at each phase of the race. At the judgment of the veterinarians some dogs may receive medical treatment while others must drop out. Dropped dogs are flown at the mushers' expense to their choice of locations.
The first Iditarod took place in 1973 and took about 20 days to complete; currently, it takes about 10 days. The last place time was 32 days in the beginning, and now it's about 13 days. Last year's winner was Dallas Seavey at 8 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, 16 seconds.
The shorter time is the result of improved technology, veterinary care, nutrition, and sled dog breeding programs.
This post is an updated revision of a post originally written in 2014.
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