Posts Tagged ‘Iditarod’

A Little History


January 25th, 2023 Posted 8:09 am

Today we turn things over to reader Amy Broughman who very nicely sends us this:
On this date in 1925, the Great Race of Mercy, also known as the 1925 serum run, began in Nenana, Alaska. An outbreak of Diptheria was killing children in the remote town of Nome, and the resident doctor (Curtis Welch) did not have nearly enough antitoxin to control the spread of the disease.
Alaska was remote in those days and it was determined that the antitoxin could only be transported by dog sled. Serum was located and brought to Nenana by rail to be transported the 674 miles to Nome. Twenty mushers and over 150 dogs, four of whom would die in the attempt, were quickly assembled and covered the 670+ miles in a record-breaking 127.5 hours in one of the worst blizzards Alaska had ever seen, some temps falling to 80 degrees below zero in gale force winds.
The average leg of the run was 31 miles. Musher Leonhard Seppala and his best, albeit oldest, dog Togo ran an astounding 264 miles in service to the serum and those whose lives were at risk, a feat unmatched today.
Also noteworthy is that Balto, another of Seppala’s lead dogs, ran the final 53-mile leg into Nome with another musher and received the accolades Seppala felt should have been Togo’s, including a statue in New York’s Central Park. Balto was a good lead dog as well but largely untested, especially in such wicked conditions, and his leg of the run presented few problems (he was able to recover the trail when his musher, Gunnar Kaasen, was forced to go off-trail due to snowbanks too large to negotiate).
Togo was a hero among lead dogs. Lead dogs, in particular, were of the utmost importance and had to display many talents that the other dogs lacked (confidence and motivation, agility, strength, ability to lead and control the other dogs in the team, problem-solving intelligence, stamina, and an innate sense of hazards such as thin or cracking ice, and the capacity to ignore a musher’s command that might lead the team into danger). The fact that Togo was a small dog (approximately 45 lbs) compared to the breed standard of 50-65 lbs and was 12 years old at the time of the run makes his accomplishment all the more incredible.
The Great Race of Mercy still represents one of the most collaborative efforts ever accomplished.
Below: Seppala and Togo (far left).



March 20th, 2021 Posted 8:39 am

The 2021 Iditarod – world’s greatest dog sled race – is in the books. Some of our Plunderers – a very special sub group here at the blog – have sent in their takes. Many thanks to Hobbit, WATP, and Carol for the following:

“This was Aliy Zirkle’s last race before retiring after 11 Iditarods and 10 Yukon Quests. Aliy had a strong and vocally supportive fan base hoping she would win this one after coming in so close in prior races. However, she was seriously injured on the trail coming into the Rohn checkpoint–the 5th of 17 checkpoints. She was medivaced to an Anchorage hospital and is now recovering at home.

The Anchorage newspaper reports: ‘Sheets hang over the windows to block out light at the Two Rivers home where Aliy Zirkle and Allen Moore live. Moore speaks to his wife in whispers, and Zirkle doesn’t go outside or online. Since crashing her sled and her skull on the ice last week in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Zirkle has avoided light and sound because of a head injury. Tuesday was the first day she hasn’t vomited, Moore said early in the afternoon, and she still can’t lift an arm that was dislocated when she hit the ice and was dragged by her team for an unknown distance across glare ice on the Tatina River….She hasn’t been able to look at a phone or a computer yet, it just hurts her brain too much.’”

“I continue to follow the Iditarod each year, including this year,, although it is somewhat less compelling without the Snowhook dogs involved. The one thing that struck me this year, which has happened in prior years as well, is how devoted most of the mushers are to their dogs, and the recognition that the dogs are the true heroes of the event. I think as long as that sentiment continues, the Iditarod should continue as America’s Last Great Race as well.”

“A bit of Iditarod history:
Dallas Seavey has won his 5th Iditarod (2012,2014,2015,2016,2021) which ties with Rick Swenson–the “King of the Iditarod”– who won 5 times in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1991. Rick has completed in the most Iditarods (34) and has finished in the top ten 24 times. His last Iditarod was in 2012. Mushers who have won four times: Susan Butcher, Martin Buser, Jeff King, Lance Mackey, and Doug Swingley. Susan is the only musher to win in four consecutive years.

Wells Fargo withdrew its sponsorship in 2017. No reason was given but rumor had it that there was pressure from animals rights groups. In 2020 more major sponsors withdrew citing pressure from PETA. in 2021 Exxon announced this was the last year it would sponsor the race. Next year with be the Iditarod’s 50th year–how much longer will this “last great race” last?”




Posted in Chet The Dog



March 19th, 2021 Posted 8:08 am

Anyone have a take on this year’s race (which must have been extra difficult)? Just put it in comments and we’ll post tomorrow.


Posted in Chet The Dog

Meet Indy!


January 17th, 2020 Posted 8:24 am

(hat tip Andrea Poulos)

This might interest all the Snowhook fans here at the blog (Snowhook being a great racing team that competed many times on the famous Iditarod race).


The Books

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