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The History of the Iditarod

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The History of the Iditarod

Katherine Keith

Using dog as a way of transportation was very common in rural Alaska as far back as the early 1900's. Dogs were used for transportation of mail and adventures looking for gold also found this a reliable method of traveling through harsh conditions. One of the more famous dog sled stories (and one you may have heard of) is Balto and the strike of diphtheria of Nome in 1925. Dogs were used (when planes could not make the trip do to harsh winter conditions) to transport the lifesaving serum 700 miles from Nenana to Nome (Nenana is 220 miles north of Anchorage). 20 dog teams would take part in relaying the serum and they did it in less than 5 days. 


In 1966, Joe Redington "the Father of the Iditarod" and Dorothy Page "The Mother of the Iditarod" organized the Iditarod sled dog race, commonly known as "the last great race".   The Iditarod is most commonly known as a tribute to remember those who ran to save the lives of those in Nome, but also because mushing was becoming more and more out of style.   Once the snowmobile was invented in the 1920's mushing dogs simply was becoming a sport of the past.

Joe thought that he would do something unheard of and create a long distance dog race. The very first race was completed in 3 weeks and has gotten faster and faster as we learn how to breed successful sled dogs and learn more about proper care during the race and during training. The fastest Iditarod race was in 2014 when Dallas Seavey finished in 8d 13h 4m 19s. Team Baker's best time was in 2011 when John Baker finished in 8d 18h 46m 39s. He held that record for three years.