It’s no secret I’m obsessed with the Iditarod. Many of my Alaskan friends ask me “Why?” I ask, “Why not?”
To me, the Iditarod is the epitome of the best of Alaska: challenging, inspiring, and epic. It’s an annual event full of historical significance, remarkable legacy, and deep tradition – all of which tests the limits of man and the strength and endurance of man’s best friend.
The Iditarod is also the Alaska State Sport and one of the most competitive events on Earth. Did you know more people have summited Mount Everest than finished the Iditarod? Yes, it's really that tough.
This year’s race is one for the books. For the second time in the race’s 43-year history, the start location was changed to Fairbanks some 225 miles north, due to lack of snow. This switch-a-roo is a game-changer for most competitors, but in some cases, it'll be a deal-breaker.
There are 78 mushers in this year’s race, including a handful of former champions and a slew of rookies. Despite the uncharacteristically warm weather, the Ceremonial Start fortunately remained in Anchorage, and I was able to fly up from Juneau to take part in the festivities. I had a blast seeing old friends, interacting with inspirational mushers, and listening to the cacophony of sleddogs eager to get the show on the road.
My next few blogs will be Iditarod-themed, and I plan on featuring some of this year’s mushers – a few of my faves and a few “ones to watch.” But for today, I'll highlight the Ceremonial Start and the real stars of the Iditarod – the dogs!