Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

  • In even years
  • In odd years

The Iditarod [ aɪditɐrɒd ] is the longest and toughest sled dog race in the world. It performs more than 1850 km through the almost untouched nature of Alaska, USA. Since 1973, on parts of the historic route of the Iditarod trail from Anchorage to Nome, annually held the dog races in March. The start of the race will take place in March on the first weekend. On Saturday, the ceremony start in Anchorage. It has extra snow is brought to the downtown Anchorage. The teams start here with 12 dogs and place only a distance of a little over 30 kilometers. On Sunday then is the official start of the race in Willow. Here are the teams start with up to 16 dogs. During 8-15 days, the mushers have to practically be on their own with their dogs arctic temperatures, defy the Whiteout and icy winds, the wind chill is below -70 ° C significantly.

The current course record holder with a winning time of 8 days, 18 hours, 46 minutes and 39 seconds since 2011, the Inupiat John Baker.


The today purely sporting dog sled race was in its original orientation in honorable remembrance of the historic Iditarod Trail and the men and dog sled teams that sailed him be.

Today, often a parallel to the dog sled in the winter season 1925 is pulled due to a diphtheria epidemic in Nome. At that time, mainly gold prospectors, diphtheria was among the local population, diagnosed, and there began a race against time to create the needed medicine from Anchorage to Nome, first of Anchorage at the time the only railway line of Alaska in the 680 km distant town of Nenana, then a further 1090 km of some of the toughest and most dangerous trails of Alaska to Nome. In a relay race transported a total of twenty mushers with more than one hundred dogs, the serum in only five and a half days up to the Bering Sea. The normal driving time at that time was three weeks. The Norwegian Gunnar and his lead dog Balto Kaasen reached on February 2, 1925 at 5:30 clock in the morning from Front Street in Nome. See the most musher Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog in Togo, the true heroes of the barrel. The two overcame the most dangerous section of the track and transported the serum also a further distance than any other team.

Internationally known the race was mainly due to the author Gary Paulsen, which it took part in 1983 and 1985 and hence in 1994 recorded his experiences in a book. This in turn served as the basis for the Disney movie Snow Dogs - Eight heroes on four paws ( Snow Dogs, 2001).

When Iditarod 2013 Martin Buser tried the new tactic to get by with as few breaks for the first time. He hired the duty breaks as early as possible in order to overtake the competitors in their breaks. He failed so on the Yukon - section, as he and his dogs for hundreds of kilometers had to make the first track. He was also relatively warm, so of open water in the river were and his dogs were not only exhausted, but developed by drunk meltwater diarrhea.


The race is led by the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge around in the middle part in the annual change in a northern and a southern route. In even years, the participants have the northern graduate in odd-numbered years since 1977, the southern route. Apart from the conversion of alternating routes, the route has been modified only slightly since its first edition in 1973. Major changes were the introduction of the reboot and the change from Ptarmigan to Rainy Pass.


26 ( northern route ) and 27 ( southern route ) can be found on the road to Nome control points ( checkpoints ), to which the mushers must report with their teams and where they refill the food and can load snap or may switch to a different slide. Otherwise, the route choice is free. Once each participant has to take a break 24 hours, twice a 8 hours. This is to prevent the dogs are overwhelmed. The health of the animals is also continuously checked by veterinarians.

Start ceremony

The race starts on the first Saturday in March at the Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage. To allow the start of snow is tilted in the streets. For the teams that start here in two-minute intervals, this first section is a special, because on the first 20 miles are many spectators who cheer on the participants. Some mushers fear, however, their dogs might be too nervous. Since according to the rules of the race this first section does not affect the ranking, it will take the participants loose often.

Start of the timing

The race usually starts in Willow on Sunday at 14:00 Clock. The competitors start at intervals of two minutes, the residue at the start will be credited to them at one of the obligatory intermediate stops later. Is on the first 100 miles an increased risk of incidents with moose, as they like to penetrate quite far to the south in search of food. Otherwise, the terrain is flat and the route well marked. After the Finger Lake the route is dangerous. The Rainy Pass checkpoint is considered the most difficult of the race.

The Hinterlands

From Rainy Pass it goes further up, above the tree line and then down into the interior of Alaska. In the high valleys there is constantly the risk of blizzards that already were some participants undoing. In 1974 there were several incidents of frostbite when the temperature -50 ° F (-46 ° C ) reached and in addition the wind blew at 80 km / hr. The wind obliterated the traces and marks, making it difficult in addition to stay on the path. After the checkpoint Rohn, the path on the Kuskokwim River runs along. Here there is the greatest danger in so-called overflows, liquid water which flows almost invisibly over the frozen river.

The route continues over Nikolai, a athabaskisches village to McGrath, the largest checkpoint on this part of the route. About Takotna, the trail leads to Ophir, is swung from where on the northern or southern route. At this time the leaders have already several days ahead of the last.

Northern or southern route

After Ophir choosing the route falls in even-numbered years on the northern route and in the odd to the south. The southern route was first traveled in 1977, on the one hand by the eponymous place Iditarod - to come, as well as to these places to give the opportunity to participate in the race - a ghost town. For many of the places along the route of the Iditarod is the biggest event of the year, because after the end of the gold rush in Alaska they are practically deserted except for a few natives.

The northern route passes through Cripple to Ruby on the Yukon River. Here are the best of times long gone. 2007 lived here only 169 people, the heyday of the early 20th century, there were nearly 3,000.

The southern route will pass the ghost town of Iditarod and then guides you through Shageluk, Anvik and Grayling to Eagle Iceland.

The railway runs over long distances along the Yukon and also it. Again, make the mushers to create the icy winds. To make matters worse, that they are now already suffering from lack of sleep and the track is very monotonous.

The routes eventually meet in Kaltag again. As it goes through the Kaltag Portage, a valley of the Unalakleet River, to Norton Sound.

Final sprint

Was the last section in the earlier sweeps of the Iditarod rarely decisive, because the race was here mostly already decided he's now become a sprint. The track is now largely flat and the teams go here and there on the pack ice off the coast.

The route leads through Unalakleet, Shaktoolik, Koyuk, Elim and Golivin to White Mountain. There, the team must once again take a break of at least eight hours before they are allowed to open up to the final sprint to Nome.

This final section of the White Mountain Safety on the finish in Nome is the actual final sprint of the race. Though times more usually in days and hours as shall be specified in minutes and seconds, the fastest teams since the 90s, often only a few minutes apart. It happened already, that the runner was beaten only by one second.

The finish line of the race is the Red " Fox " Olson Trail Monument, the only burled arch is, in Nome.


Each year, slightly more than 50 mushers participate in the Iditarod. Most of them live and live in Alaska, a few come from the southern states, from Canada or from other countries. Many also professionally dealing with sled dogs, have their own breed or teach driving a dog sled. Only experienced musher may participate. As a minimum condition for the first participation to participate in the Yukon Quest or that in two other races with a total of at least 500 miles is required.

The entry fee is $ 3000 (2013), plus all expenses for travel, accommodation and equipment arrive.


As sled dogs for a long distance race like the Iditarod Alaskan huskies are often used alongside the traditional breeds Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky. Under the latter includes all mixed forms of the former, which are additionally also crossed with other breeds to improve certain characteristics. The Huskies have the great cold outdoors without prejudice and survive, which is an essential property of the Alaskan Malamute. To increase the speed and endurance, hunting dogs and shepherd dogs are crossed. Also cross breeding of wolves occur, such wolfhounds are very durable and strong.

List of Winners