The 2013 Iditarod Sled Dog Race Gets Underway Today!

The 2013 Iditarod sled dog race gets underway today in Anchorage, Alaska, where some of the best mushers in the world have gathered to take part in the 1000-mile journey that culminates in Nome. This morning, 66 mushers will set out from the starting line in front of a throng of cheering fans as part of the ceremonial start. The race will officially get underway tomorrow when the teams will restart in Willow and the competition truly begins.

This year marks the 40th running of the Iditarod, which is billed as “The Last Great Race.” The event was originally created to commemorate the famous 1925 dog sled run to Nome that delivered serum to fight off a deadly diphtheria epidemic just in the nick of time. It was during that run that musher Gunnar Kaasen, and his famous lead dog Balto, rose to fame.

Today, the Iditarod has grown to become the most popular sporting event in Alaska, drawing relatively large crowds (by Alaskan standards) on an annual basis. The mushers and their dogs are well known throughout the state and often find themselves local celebrities. Most of the competitors live and train in Alaska, but as the event has grown in popularity, mushers now come from all over the globe.

This year’s field is another deep one with a large number of possible contenders. Past champions such as Jeff King, Lance Mackey and John Baker should all be in the running, although last year’s winner Dallas Seavey seems to be the odds on favorite to win the race once again. With his victory in the 2012 event, Seavey became the youngest winner ever and he is looking to add to an already impressive resume.

A few weeks ago there was some concern about the condition of the trail, which lacked snow along certain sections. Since then, however, snow has been plentiful and the route is in top shape for the start of the race. As always, there are some areas that will be more challenging than others, but for the most part the teams should find good snow to run on.

You can follow the Iditarod over the next few weeks at the race’s official website.

[Photo Credit: Jeff Schultz/]

2011 Iditarod begins 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]

2010 Iditarod begins today

Following the ceremonial start in Anchorage yesterday, the 2010 Iditarod officially begins today with 71 mushers, and their dog sled teams, setting out from Willow, Alaska on a two week long odyssey through some of the most remote and rugged wilderness that North America has to offer. Over the course of the next two weeks, they’ll face challenging weather conditions, endless miles of snow covered trails, and each other, as they race to the finish line in Nome.

Officially known as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the event began back in 1973 as a way to commemorate the famous 1925 race against time in which dogsled teams delivered a diphtheria serum to Nome, saving dozens of lives in the process. Since then, however, it has earned the moniker of “the Last Great Race”, thanks to its incredible length and challenging conditions. The mushers and their teams will cover over 1100 miles on their journey, while dealing with sub-zero temperatures and whiteout conditions.

The odds on favorite to win this year’s race is three time defending champ Lance Mackey, although he’ll be pushed by past champions such as Jeff King and Martin Buser. And should one of these dog sled racing legends falter, there are a host of young racers preparing to leave their mark on the race, such as Dallas Seavey, son of former champ Mitch Seavey. Both father and son, hope to contend this year.

To win the Last Great Race, the competitors will need incredible endurance, perfect strategy, and even a little luck. But most of all they’ll need a great team of dogs. These canine athletes are born and bred for pulling a sled, and they are impressive to watch in action. As such, their safety and health is of the utmost concern, with vets on hand at all checkpoints, and mushers taking great precautions to ensure that their dogs are well cared for.

At 10 AM local time today, the 2010 race will get underway. Expect the winner to cross the finish line in roughly 10 days, with the rest of the teams spread out over the following week. The winner will take home a nice fat check and a new pick-up truck.