Think the weather this winter has been tough? You haven't experienced cold until you've spent eight days racing through the frozen Alaskan tundra on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Earlier this month, more than 50 of the toughest sportsmen and their beloved dogs set out from Anchorage, Alaska, through whiteout blizzards, ice-filled rivers, and huge snowdrifts to see who would come out victorious at the finish line in Nome.
Dallas Seavey finished the 2014 Iditarod in just eight days, 14 hours and nine minutes, only two minutes ahead of Aliy Zirkle, the second place finisher. Beginning on March 25th at 7p.m. EST, you can relive the harrowing journey on "Iditarod Unleashed", only on Sportsman Channel. Be sure to tune in.
The original sled dogs of the Iditarod were malamutes, but beginning in the early 20th century, Siberian huskies became the most popular breed.
All photos by Mike Kenney
All dogs at the race wear protective booties over their feet to keep them from being scraped up and to keep balls of ice from collecting around the footpad.
Each team is composed of twelve to sixteen dogs and at least six dogs must be in harness when crossing the finish line in Nome.
Starting in 1984, all dogs are examined by veterinarians/nurses before the start of the race, who check teeth, eyes, tonsils, heart, lungs, joints, and genitals; they look for signs of illegal drugs, improperly healed wounds, and pregnancy.
The dogs in the race are well-conditioned athletes who burn about 5,000 calories a day, compares to roughly 3.5 times that of a human Tour de France cyclist.
The Iditarod Headquarters are located in Wasilla, Alaska that houses a museum and offers free tours.
The Junior Iditarod Sled Dog Race is a 148- to 158-mile (222 km) sled dog race for mushers between the ages of 14 through 17 that is held outside of Anchorage.
Weathering the Trail
Just like the original race, the Jr. Iditarod trail runs through harsh tundra, spruce forests, over hills, through mountain passes, and across rivers.
The mushers in the Jr. Iditarod frequently train their own dogs for the event. Many of the competitors go on to participate in the full race.
Mushers From Around the World
While most of the mushers in the Iditarod are Alaskan, competitors from 14 different countries have participated in the event.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race runs 9-15 days or more and begins in Anchorage, Alaksa and finishes in Nome.
While mushers experience some of the harshest parts of the Alaskan landscape, they also get to see some of the most beautiful, like the Northern Lights.
Throughout the race, teams experience blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach ˆ’100 °F.
The Iditarod is held to commemorate the 1925 run, let by the dog Balto, that delivered diptheria medicine to the citizens of Nome.
Also be sure to check out:
Amazing Dog Photos from the 2014 Iditarod
Iditarod Mushers Vs. Hardcore Ice Anglers: Who's Tougher?