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Iditarod Sled Dog Race: The Last Great Race on Earth

When thinking about visiting Alaska, many sights and attractions come to mind. Snow capped glaciers, the Northern Lights, untouched natural beauty, and of course the Iditarod. This famous dog sledding race is known as the “Super Bowl” of Alaskan sports, and considered the state’s #1 winter event.

Interested in seeing this amazing race up close and personal? You’ll want to plan your visit for early March, as the race is set to begin at 10:00 am sharp on March 7th, 2020. Cities in Alaska celebrate this great race for days, if not weeks, before and even after the days of the actual race.

Before diving into details regarding your itinerary, here are five fast facts you may not know about this world-famous event!

1. Race times are now twice as fast as they were in 1973- It used to take approximately 20 days to complete the race, but average times have gotten faster over the years. Today, mushers and their sleds usually cross the finish lines after about ten days.

2. Sled dogs consume 10-12,000 calories daily- Frozen snacks like meat, fish, and wet dog food ensure they’re well-nourished for the race, and vitamin supplements are given to boost each animal’s strength and immunity during the long haul.

3. The dogs wear booties- Alaska’s rough terrain is hard on their foot pads, so booties specially made by their mushers help keep dogs safe. In fact, all mushers competing are members of P.R.I.D.E. which stands for “Providing Responsible Information on a Dog’s Environment.”

4. Family legacies live on- Many families compete year after year and maintain friendly rivalries throughout the race. They also take great pride in giving their dogs only the best care. In addition to the extensive health examinations before the race, once the race begins, well over 10,000 routine checkpoint veterinary examinations take place. Their dogs are treated like family!

5. The race was named after a ghost town- The course runs from Anchorage to Nome, but was named after the Iditarod River. This town saw great growth during the early 20th century gold rush, but was practically abandoned once the precious metal ran out in the 1930’s.

Planning your winter trip to Alaska is exciting by itself, however adding the Iditarod to your itinerary is sure to provide memories to last a lifetime. Plus, there’s so much to see and do in addition to the race itself. You can visit a kennel and meet the dogs up close and personal. Mushers provide tours in the weeks leading up to the event, and you can even hop on a sled and try racing for yourself!

If you’re looking for a one-stop locale for the race, Anchorage is your answer. The city is bustling with activity surrounding the Iditarod and is considered to be the center of it all. Here you can view the starting line and all its excitement. In addition, you can tour the race headquarters, attend the welcome banquet, or even volunteer to help out with many of the jobs needed to help the race run smoothly.

The Iditarod is truly a fantastic way to experience the heart of Alaskan sports and culture. It connects many local towns and citizens, but also warmly welcomes tourists and visitors from around the world. We highly recommend including this not to be missed event when planning your Alaskan vacation.