2013 Iditarod Winner Is Oldest Ever

Mitch Seavey racing in the 2013 IditarodBy claiming victory in the 2013 Iditarod earlier this week, 53-year-old musher Mitch Seavey managed to cement his place in the annals of Alaskan lore. Not only did he secure the second Iditarod win of his 20-year career, he also became the oldest person to win the event in its 41-year history. This is in sharp contrast to last year’s race in which Mitch’s son Dallas became the youngest Iditarod winner at the age of 25.

In order to win the 1000-mile sled dog race, Seavey had to hold off a late charge from Aliy Zirkle. She made a bid to become the first female winner of the race in 23 years and was in good form as the lead teams turned toward the finish line in Nome. She ended up finishing 23 minutes behind the winner, making this the closest Iditarod in history. Zirkle finished second to Dallas Seavey last year as well.

The Iditarod is Alaska’s premiere sporting event, drawing in competitors and spectators from around the world. Each year the race begins in Anchorage where the mushers and their dogs set out on the historic Iditarod trail. Over the course of the thousand-mile race, the skill, endurance and strategy of each of the competitors is pushed to the limits as they endure unpredictable weather, harsh temperatures and sometimes dangerous trail conditions.

To earn the win in this year’s edition of the race, Seavey completed the entire course in 9 days, 7 hours and 39 minutes. Considering the fact that each racer must take a couple of mandatory 8-hour breaks – as well as a 24-hour rest – along the way, that is one impressive time.

As of this writing more than half the field has now reached Nome but racing continues for the teams who are still out on the course. Most should wander across the finish line in the next day or two, with the final racer earning the traditional Red Lantern in recognition of their efforts.

Congratulations to Mitch Seavey on the win and to all the racers who have completed the race.

[Photo Credit: Loren Holmes]

Video: Yukon Quest 2012 gets started

This past weekend saw the kickoff of one of the year’s biggest sporting events. No, not the Super Bowl. The 2012 Yukon Quest began. What is Yukon Quest? It’s just your run-of-the-mill 1,000 mile dog sled race from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. It follows the trail that prospectors took during the gold rush of the 1890s and celebrate the Yukon River, the “highway of the North.” And while the Iditarod may be more well-known, Yukon Quest is considered by many to be the most difficult race in the world. Mushers and their dogs will navigate the frozen wilderness for two weeks and friend-of-Gadling Eva Holland is along for the ride and posting dispatches on her Twitter feed. She passed along this video of the start of the race and we thought we’d share it with you because, well, it’s just plain awesome.

10 unique modes of transportation around the world

chicken busCars, trains, buses, and planes aren’t the only way to get around a country. From the Bamboo Train in Cambodia to the Rail Cart in the the Philippines to the Couch Bike in Canada, here are ten unique modes of transportation from around the world.

Chicken Bus
Guatemala, Central America

While variations of the chicken bus can be found in many different countries (this reminds me a lot of taking the tro-tro in Ghana, Africa), this vehicle is used not only to transport people but also livestock, hence the name. These U.S. school buses are very eye-catching as they are colorfully painted and decorated. When taking one expect cramped conditions, as chicken buses tend to be packed to capacity, and hectic driving at Nascar speeds.Sled Dogs
Alaska, USA

Sled dogs are highly trained dogs that are used to pull a dog sled, which is a vehicle without wheels that glides over snow and ice. If you need a mental image, think Santa being pulled by reindeer, only you’re not flying and there are dogs instead of deer. Endurance and speed are the two main qualities that sled dogs must possess, and this transportation type has become a popular winter sport in other countries around the world such as Japan and Germany.

human powered rickshawHuman Powered Rickshaws
Kyoto, Japan

While urbanization across Asia has mostly done away with this traditional form of transportation, you can still find them used in certain areas where cars are not accessible in Kyoto, Japan, as well as in some parts of India. According to Kelvin Lim of BootsnAll, many rickshaw “drivers” wear a special foot-glove that helps them travel through various types of terrain without slipping.

Elephant
India and Asia

In India and many places in South East Asia, an elephant is not only an animal but also a mode of transport. When I was Vietnam I actually went on an elephant ride with a local school owner named Roy who explained to me that “in many Asian countries we use animals to help with labor”. While once used to carry the wealthy around, today exploring a country on the back of an elephant is a big tourist attraction.

habal habal Habal Habal
Philippines, Asia

The Habal Habal is a unique motorcycle that can seat many people. The simpler versions seat 4-5 people, with a seat that extends over the back wheel, while the more complex type of Habal Habal can seat up to thirteen people and their luggage with the addition of wooden planks acting as benches.

Rail Cart
Philippines, Southeast Asia

The rail cart is most commonly found in the Philippines and is literally a cart that is pulled along rail tracks by a person, people, or a horse. The special wheels on the cart allow for quick transport but, unfortunately, are not always fast enough to get out of the way of the real trains that also use the tracks.

reed boatsReed Boat
Lake Titicana, Peru

Lake Titicana stretches across the countries of Peru and Bolivia and is home to many floating villages around Southern Peru. These villages are inhabited by the Uro people, who use natural resources, like reed, to construct homes and boats. The boats are light but resiliant and, built in the shape of a dragon, are said to have been used by the anicent Incas to ward off evil spirits.

Camel Back
Jordan, Middle East

While there are many places where camel rides are popular, one way to try out this transport option for yourself is by trekking through the beautiful rose colored deserts of Wadi Rum in Jordan. Cairo, Dubai, Mongolia, Morocco, and many deserts in India are also known for being camel riding hotspots.

couch bikeCouch Bike
Canada

When I found this highly unusual mode of transportation, I was kind of expecting it to be from America. The Couch Bike, which is literally a couch that you pedal like a bike, pokes fun at sedentary culture while providing an eco-friendly alternative to driving. Just make sure you know the traffic laws of the city you’ll be riding in, as the vehicle may not be legal to drive in all areas.

Monte Toboggan Ride
Madeira, Portugal

This unique transport mode is only for the adventureous. Once a popular mode of transport in the 1800′s-early 1900′s, it is a big tourist attraction today in Madeira. Passengers sit in a wicker or wooden tobaggan and ride down the mountain from Monte to Funchal. While an exhilerating experience, you don’t have to worry too much about crashing as there are two locals “steering” the vehicle from the outside. It’s kind of like being a kid again and having your parents pull you around in a sled, only your parents probably weren’t yanking you down a steep mountain with winding turns.

2011 Iditarod begins today

The 2011 Iditarod beings today!The 2011 edition of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race gets underway today in Anchorage, Alaska, where 62 mushers, and their teams of dogs, will set out on an 1131 mile journey to Nome. The event, which is billed as “The Last Great Race,” is an annual test of stamina and skill for both the dogs and their drivers.

The Iditarod was first run back in 1973 and over the years has easily become the most popular sporting event in Alaska. The event pays homage to an historic sled dog run that took place in 1925 in which teams of mushers raced against the clock to deliver a lifesaving diphtheria serum to Nome at a time when many children were stricken with the disease. Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto became well known celebrities for completing the final leg into the town with the medical supplies in tow.

Today, the ceremonial start to the Iditarod will take place on 4th Avenue and D Street in Anchorage, where large crowds will gather to see the teams off. The real race gets underway tomorrow however, when the action moves to Willow. From there, the competition will truly get underway, with the top mushers expected to arrive in Nome in about 10-12 days depending on weather conditions.

The field is full of experienced teams, but the man to beat is still Lance Mackey, who is the four-time defending champ. Mackey and his dogs have easily been the fastest team over the past few years, and until someone steps up to take the crown, he’s still the odds on favorite. He may be challenged by 23-year old Dallas Seavey however. Seavey, who placed eighth last year, recently won the 1000-mile long Yukon Quest, and seems to be an emerging force in the sport.

Good luck to all the mushers and their dogs. Race well and stay safe on the trail.

[Photo credit: Kevin Horan/Getty Images]




Winter in Alaska: Paws for Adventure dog mushing tour through Fairbanks (video)

In the spirit of journeying during periods less traveled, I’ve embarked to Alaska this winter. Follow the adventures here, and prepare to have your preconceived notions destroyed along the way.



Video footage from my one hour Paws for Adventure dog sled tour in Fairbanks, AK

The more time I spent in Alaska during the winter, the more I asked myself why this wasn’t considered a tourist season. A week or so ago, Fairbanks was gifted with an atypical dumping of fresh powder, making the conditions more than perfect for a day of dog mushing. Following the races down at Fur Rondy, I headed up north to Fairbanks for a slightly different kind of dog race: one that began and ended at a homestead. Paws For Adventure is an Alaskan outfit that uses their stable of dogs strictly for casual runs — nothing competitive whatsoever. These pups were downright adorable, and I was able to sit down (with owner Leslie Goodwin) in a sled behind ten beautiful dogs. They hauled us along like champs, and they were thrilled to be doing it. I couldn’t help but make a few rounds praising them all afterwards, and even now, it’s one of the highlights of my trip to The Last Frontier. If you’re looking for a truly Alaskan adventure to partake in whilst in Fairbanks, look no further. Have a peek at the video above to get a gist of what to expect.

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[Images provided by Dana Jo Photography]

My trip was sponsored by Alaska Travel Industry Association, but I was free to report as I saw fit. The opinions expressed in this article are 100% my own.