Why Is There an Iditarod Dog Sled Race?

Many times throughout history, heroes have emerged because they were needed. This was true in Alaska in 1925 during a diphtheria outbreak in the town of Nome. At the time, hundreds of people were in need of a serum to help them get well, but there was no serum near the town. The closest serum was over 700 miles away. There was no way to reach this town in Alaska, except by dogsled. Volunteers set up a dogsled relay to carry the serum from Nenana (where the serum was located) to Nome. The teams raced tirelessly, and the ill people were saved.

Dogsleds were an important form of transportation in Alaska before the widespread use of airplanes and snowmobiles. Much of the state is rough terrain, with frozen lakes and rivers for much of the year. Dogsleds were an effective way of maneuvering these areas to transport goods, carry mail, or simply get from one place to another.

The Iditarod Dog Sled Race has been designed to commemorate the rugged determinism and independence of the mushers and their dogs. There is also a spirit of support and respect that is expected of all those involved in the race.

The Iditarod Dog Sled Race - How It Began

"The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race first ran to Nome in 1973, after two short races on part of the Iditarod Trail in 1967 and 1969. The idea of having a race over the Iditarod Trail was conceived by the late Dorothy G. Page. In 1964, Page was chairman of the Wasilla-Knik Centennial and was working on projects to celebrate Alaska’s Centennial Year in 1967."

It takes people with a passion! Click herefor the rest of the history of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race as reported on the official Iditarod Web site.

Selected Literature (Find many of these and other books at the Iditarod Store)

Akiak: A Tale From the Iditarod by Robert J. Blake
Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights by Mindy Dwyer (not about the Iditarod, but has the Northern Lights connection)
Dogteam by Gary Paulsen
Elim: The Determined Athlete by Joan Jackson
The Great Serum Race: Blazing the Iditarod Trail by Debbie S. Miller
Iditarod Fact Book: A Complete Guide to the Last Great Race Edited by Sue Mattson
The Iditarod: Story of the Last Great Race by Ian Young
Kiana's Iditarod by Shelley Gill
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
Storm Run: The Story of the First Woman to Win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race by Libby Riddles

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