The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is a 1000 mile race of dog teams pulling a sled and musher from Anchorage to Nome Alaska. It commemorates the lifesaving Diptheria serum run performed by mushers and dog teams in around 1926 that saved the town of Nome. Anchorage hosts a "ceremonial start" on the first Saturday of March. It’s coming up on March 7th this year. Crowds of people line Anchorage’s 4th Avenue to see the dogs take off. Dogs are so excited they bark and howl and leap in the air. They just can’t wait till they’re given the signal to start pulling and RUN! It’s amazing to see their excitement. For various reasons over the years, it was decided to make the official start of the race in Wasilla the day after the ceremonial start in Anchorage. The race winner will cross the finish line in Nome in about 9 days. The Red Lantern award given to the last musher across the finish line is earned approximately a week or more later.
Mushing was and still is an important means of transportation in many parts of rural Alaska. Lots of places today cannot be reached in winter except by airplane, snow machine or dog sled. Mushing certainly is a different kind of sport to "watch". You have to watch it by checking the current standings on the internet, checking local online newspapers and newscasts, seeing photos from various check points, or being a paid subscriber to the Iditarod's daily video coverage. Check out the very short video clip on the Iditarod home page.