I finally thought of something! Here are 13 facts about the Iditarod.
1. This route is a grueling one. While always longer than 1,000 miles (1,600 km), the trail is actually composed of a northern route, which is run on even-numbered years, and a southern route, which is run on odd-numbered years. Both follow the same trail for 444 miles (715 km), from Anchorage to Ophir, where they diverge and then rejoin at
Kaltag, 441 miles (710 km) from Nome.
2. The exact measured distance of the race varies, but according to the official website the northern route is 1,112 miles (1,790 km) long, and the southern route is 1,131 miles (1,820 km) long (ITC, Southern & Northern). The length of the race is also frequently rounded to either 1,050, 1,100, or 1,150 miles (1690, 1770 or 1850 km), but is officially set at 1,049 miles (1688 km), which honors Alaska's status as the 49th state.
3. The race used the northern route until 1977, when the southern route was added to distribute the impact of the event on the small villages in the area, none of which have more than a few hundred inhabitants. Passing through the historic town of Iditarod was a secondary benefit.
4. The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams, evolving into the highly competitive race it is today.
5. The current fastest winning time record was set in 2002 by Martin Buser with a time of 8 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, and 2 seconds.
6. Each team is composed of twelve to sixteen dogs, and no more may be added during the race. At least six dogs must be in harness when crossing the finish line in Nome. Mushers keep a veterinary diary on the trail, but are not required to have it signed by a veterinarian at each checkpoint. Dogs that become exhausted or injured may be carried in the sled's "basket" to the next "dog-drop" site, where they are transported by the volunteer Iditarod Air Force to the Hiland Mountain Correctional Center at Eagle River where they are taken care of by prison inmates until picked up by handlers or family members, or they are flown to Nome for transport home.
8. The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route.
9. Iditarod Trail Committee announced on December 5, 2008 that 73 mushers have signed up to run the 2009 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. As of December 5, 17 rookies are entered in IDITAROD XXXVII.
10. My personal favorite musher is Dee Dee Jonrowe. I would suggest checking out her website. I love her profiles of her dogs and her questions and answers section.
11. DeeDee has won numerous awards for the care of her dogs through her career, including the best-cared for team, the best dog care award (given by staff veterinarians), and the dog's best friend award. As her dogs are her top priority, she became a founding member of Mush with PRIDE, which provides responsible information of a dog's environment, exhibiting her commitment to set the standards for all aspects of sled dog care.
12. The official blog of the Iditarod is www.iditarod.com
13. The 2009 Iditarod begins on Saturday March 7th.