Iditarod Trail Sled Dog RaceThe Last Great Race Anchorage from above
Race BasicsAnchorage to Nome*1 human,16 dogs1049** miles28 checkpoints
Nome looking SE over Bering Sea
The Gold Rush
Once used by ancient native hunters, then by Russian explorers and early 20th century gold seekers, the Iditarod Trail is actually a network of more than 2,300 miles of trails. The trail takes its name from the Athabascan Indian village near the site of a 1908 gold discovery. By 1910 a gold rush town flourished and for a time was the center of the Iditarod Mining District.
Other adventurers started their travels in Nome after arriving by steamboat. There, many prospectors worked the beaches of Nome panning for gold for a time before moving south. The two end portions of the trail developed toward the center eventually meeting at the Iditarod Mining District.
Serum run of 1925
Years before the birth of the Iditarod, 20 mushers teamed up for a relay race 674 miles from Nenana to Nome to save the lives of the children of Nome. In 1925 diphtheria was diagnosed and the only serum was in Anchorage. The only two planes available were in Fairbanks and had been dismantled and stored for the winter. Many thought dog teams were the only reliable answer.The serum left Anchorage by train headed to Nenana where the package was given to Wild Bill Shannon, the first of 20 mushers. Near midnight, Shannon started his nine dogs on the 52-mile trip where he would hand the serum to another musher. The temperature was 35 degrees below zero. Shannon and 19 other mushers, including champion racer Leonhard Seppala got to Nome on February 2, just one week after leaving Anchorage and 127 1/2 hours from Nenana. Balto, a lead dog owned by Seppala, was memorialized with a statue in Central Park in New York City. Seppala always felt that his lead dog, Togo, didn't get enough recognition for his effort. After Togo died, Seppala had him mounted and he is now on display at Iditarod Headquarters in Wasilla. Balto is on display in Cleveland at the Museum of Natural History.
Race BeginningsIn 1967, Joe Redington, Sr. joined with Dorothy Page, an Alaskan interested in history, to celebrate dog sleds. A sled dog race was held, and it was extended to Nome in 1973, with part of it following the old Iditarod Trail. The race became known as the "The Last Great Race on Earth" , and Joe Redington and Dorothy Page were known as the 'father and mother of the Iditarod".
The TrailEven Year TrailOdd Year Trail2003 Trail*
1049 Miles*The actual race route may be as long as 1170 miles, depending on how the trail breakers set the course.The race is always longer than 1000 miles; the distance of 1049 was chosen because Alaska was the 49th state to join the United States.
Dog Sled or Sled Dogs
Dogs are faster than horses over the long haul, capable of maintaining average speeds of 8-12mph an hour for hundreds of miles (including rest stops)Can exceed twenty miles an hour or more on shorter sprints Lighter than heavy draft animalsCan be fed with native fish and game rather than expensive hay and grain
General RequirementsArctic ParkaHeavy Sleeping BagAxSnowshoesMusher FoodDog Food Cooker and FuelDog BootiesVet Log
LogosOriginal design by Alaskan Artist Bil DeVine
Meet the Mushers
Charlie BouldingMartin BusserDee Dee JonroweTyrell SeaveyJessica Hendricks
Special AwardsGolden Harness Award- awarded to the best lead dog as voted on by the mushersSportsmanship AwardMost Inspirational MusherLeonhard Seppala Award- given to the musher who takes the best care of his team voted on by the veterinarians Red Lantern Award- Last place (but must remain competative, the Widows Lamp
Other Iditarod ActivitiesI-Did-a-WhatCreate a RaceExcel dog food graphsPan for goldMushing around the schoolIditarod Number Puzzle
Follow along with a leader board
Make dog biscuits for local animal shelterCollect newspaper or food Adopt a musherMake bootiesReaders theater for younger grades
Alternate ActivityDevelop an ad campaign to promote animal welfare with each of the components of the race project 1st Research both sides of the issue; get the factsAnimal regulation; Laws protecting animal rightsOverpopulation; spay & neuter programsVaccination policies
Further ReadingChildrens BooksDanger the Yard Cat by Libby RiddlesStorm Run by Libby RiddlesOne Second to Glory by Lew Freedman Togo by Robert J. Blake Spirit of the Wind by Lew Freedman Where's the Boss by Lois Harter Back of the Pack by Don Bowers
Older ReadersMurder on the Iditarod Trail by Sue Henry Yukon Poems of Robert Service, Sourdough Edition Iditarod - The Great Race to Nome by Scherwonit/Schultz Race Across Alaska by Libby Riddles
compare food pricesmap distances mphconversions of distances calculate weights of food neededcost to musher to preparecost v. purses
Problem solving with
ScienceInsulation experimentsBuild a parka with bubble wrapInsulation factors of various materialsWeatherWind chillStorm trackerAurora BorealisTechnologyNorthern Lights Photo warp
Creative writing activitiesNorthern Lights MythMusher biographies You know youre from Alaska whenWrite to a musherDaily Log (Musher words)Dog Stories
And RememberIf youre not the lead dog, the scenery never changes.