4. Iditarod

Army Staff Sgt. Harry Alexie of the Alaska Arm...

Lance Mackey Wikipedia

First Update

Latest reports say first musher to pull in to Rainy Pass, the fourth checkpoint and a major stop-over, was favourite Lance Mackey.

Lance has been known to hang back during the beginning stages, but this time he has thrown down the gauntlet to fellow racers, showing he means business when he says he is aiming for a record fifth consecutive win.

However, it is unlikely he will pull one of his favourite stunts, when he lulls the opposition into complacency, telling all and sundry he is stopping for a long rest – then quietly pulling out when everyone else has settled down to sleep.  The temperature is an unseasonal zero degrees, the sun is shining, and dogs don’t like running when it’s too hot.  And believe me, these tough cookies consider zero to be up with the heatwaves.

On the way, Martin Buser lost five dogs – but fellow competitor Ken Anderson picked up three, hitched them to his team, and gave them back when he caught up with Buser.  Race officials captured the other two.  These dogs love to run after any game, such as moose, or just go walk-about, so it was no great deal.

What was more worrying was Rick Swenson, past winner, this time broke his collar bone on the first day.  He is reflecting at Rainy Pass, and will see if the pain will be too much and keep him out of the race.  Another ‘almost disaster’ happened to fancied female musher, Michelle Phillips, who said she had spent “quality time” wrapped around trees – but was finally back on track.


The race is now fully running, and most competitors now have less than 1000 miles to go!  They are already strung out, but no-one is really pushing.

They will be trying to keep their dogs fully fit, and working well together, and they will be evaluating how each dog is running

They will also be sizing up the weather, and what they might expect on the trail.  And sizing up the opposition, and deciding just where and when they are going to make a break to try and take the lead – but for the canny ones, this will be some days yet.

Each checkpoint will have a special welcome, and some checkpoints give out prizes – so some mushers that may not expect to do all that well will be thinking of this – and the ‘old hands’ will let them go by, so they get some glory.

When the race reaches half-way point, the leading team is awarded a bag of Alaska gold nuggets – and this is probably first prize that the top mushers will be aiming for.  Last year it was Dallas Seavey who gained the prize – eventually coming in 8th overall. 

This year’s favourite, and hoping to win for a record fifth time, is Lance Mackey.  As he says, “this is my job. It is my hobby; it is my passion; it is everything that I love.  …some people were put on earth to be lawyers, construction, you know.. whatever. I was put on earth to race, train and promote sled dog racing,”  Last year 40 year old Lance won the 2010 race in eight days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 9 seconds.

Mackey’s stepson, Cain Carter, is competing in the Iditarod for the first time this year, and this is  very much a family sport.  Latest news is the other 1,000 mile dog sled race, last month’s Yukon Quest, was won by 24-year old Dallas Seavey (8th in last year’s Iditarod).  Like Lance, Dallas comes from a long line of mushers – and like Lance, Dallas will be hoping to emulate Lance’s feet – when he was the first musher to win both 1000-mile races in the same year.

How to watch the race

If  you get hooked, then go to www.iditarod.com and sign up for the paid service ($39).

Or go to www.cnn.com and key into Search:  Iditarod.  There is a good pre-race interview video, featuring DeeDee Jonrowe with her famous pink booted dog team (she also appears in the pink coat – very pretty);  Lance has a few words, and you also see Dallas Seavey – bound to be the pin-up boy on the trail!

If you have never been dog sledding, you can get a good idea of what it is really like if you Google YouTube Iditarod.  There are lots of amateur videos, which really give a flavour of what it’s like to drive a team, including thrills and spills.


Dogs can have off days, and if a musher finds that one of their team isn’t running well, they will take them in to the next Vet’s centre on the trail, where the dog will be looked after, petted and examined, then flown to the finish ready to great master when they turn up.

How long is race?

It’s over 1000 miles.  Some years the trail has been 1049 miles – remember the number 49 has big significance in Alaska, proud to have become the 49th U.S. State.  Then some mushers will take a wider track, and the race will be approx 1,150 miles.

Where does trail go?

Across mountain ranges, frozen river, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast.  There are two official routes, which alternate each year.

How many days does the race take?

Fastest races were run in eight days, but winners have taken up to 20 days – Carl Huntingdon in 1974.                       Fastest race was won by Martin Buser (a Swiss) in 8 days, 22 hours 46 mins and 2 secs.

Closest Finish

was in 1978, when Dick Mackey (father of Lance Mackey) flung himself over the finish line to beat five times winner Rick Swenson by ONE SECOND!

Mushers’ Websites



Supporting http://breakthrough.org.uk/donate/index.htmlnd


Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: