Dubbed “the last great race on earth”, the Iditarod started its 39th race on Sunday in Anchorage, Alaska.
The 1,110 mile race takes one musher and his group of 12-16 dogs from Anchorage, through 22 checkpoints, to the finish line in Nome, and is expected to take about ten days to complete.
The course itself is a National Historic Trail, and was used in its beginnings to run supplies from Anchorage up to the mining communities that made up the remote reaches of Alaska.
The trail came into national prominence when a case of Diphtheria struck in Nome, and life-saving serum needed to be delivered.
The serum was brought up by dog mushers, and it was these mushers that saved Nome’s community.
The Iditarod is a commemoration of these events, and as described by their official website, it “pits man and animal against nature, against wild Alaska at her best and as each mile is covered, a tribute to Alaska’s past is issued. The Iditarod is a tie to — a commemoration of — that colorful past.”
This year, there are 62 teams registered for the race.
Racer Lance Mackey is the early favorite to win. He has won every Iditarod since 2007, and a win this year ties him with Rick Swenson for the most wins (five) in Iditarod history.
To catch up on the action and see the standings, visit: www.iditarod.com