The Iditarod: The Last Great Race on Earth
* Warm-up Underway: Full Forecast *
Several years ago I was lucky enough to see the beginning of the annual Iditarod sled dog race in Anchorage. I say lucky because I just happened to be staying in Anchorage (during a visit to the National Weather Service Alaska Region Headquarters) when unbeknown to me it was race week. Unbeknown, that is, until waking up one morning and looking out my hotel window to see race preparations taking place on Anchorage's main street.
What took me most by surprise was that the street was snow covered, when it had been totally bare the previous evening and there was no snow in the overnight forecast. Only later did I learn the snow had been trucked in to provide a wintry scene for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. (The actual official start of the race occurred the next day, several miles outside Anchorage.)
Keep reading to learn more about this amazing race...
The Iditarod is often called the "The Last Great Race on Earth." The Iditarod was first held in 1973 and has been run annually ever since. This year's race began March 7 with mushers and their teams -- typically 12-16 dogs -- attempting to complete the 1,131 miles of trail from near Anchorage to Nome in 10 to 17 days.
Aside from various and sometimes treacherous terrain, the weather often plays a critical role in the race and its outcome. Temperatures can range from 50 above zero to 60 below zero, and blizzard conditions and piercing winds with wind chills reaching -100 degrees are not uncommon.
Needless to say, the physical demands of mushers and their dog teams are extremely harsh. I managed to get a very slight taste of this by hiking several miles of the Iditarod trail on a sunny day where the terrain was relatively flat but the wind chill was about -20. That was enough for me. Nevertheless, I felt I was in heaven with such beautiful surroundings and the ground covered with a foot or more of freshly fallen powdery snow.
You can learn more about the Iditarod and keep track of this year's race at the Iditarod official Web site.
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