Iditarod facts, history, and information
Iditarod facts and history: This page is a continual work of progress, but I thought I'd try to put together a nice Iditarod facts and history page. When I first created this page I was getting ready to go to the 2011 Iditarod, so I wanted to learn about the Iditarod race history.
Here are some bullet points that summarize the Iditard history I've been able to learn so far:
- First, here’s what I’ve been able to put together about the meaning of the word “Iditarod”.
- The first Iditarod race began on March 3, 1973.
- There were two much shorter sled dog races on 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. (There is a museum in Wasilla honoring her.)
- The Iditarod Trail was used by Natuve Americans hundreds of years before Russians began using it in the 1800s.
- According to Wikipedia, "the Iditarod Trail reached its peak use between the late 1880s and the mid 1920s as miners arrived to dig coal and later gold, especially after the Alaska gold rushes at Nome in 1898."
- Dog sledding was almost driven into exctinction by the use of snowmobiles in the 1960s.
- Dog mushing was a popular sport, and a race called the All-Alaska Sweepstakes was a 408 mile race from Nome to Candle and back.
Here’s some information about the 1925 diptheria epidemic in Nome:
- In 1925 a diptheria epidemic threatened Nome, and the only antitoxin was in Anchorage.
- The only two planes available at that time had been disassembled, and had never been flown in the winter.
- A twenty pound cylinder of diptheria serum was sent by train from Seward to Nenana.
- It was passed to the first of twenty mushers and more than 100 dogs, who relayed the package from Nenana to Nome.
- The dogs ran in relays, with no dog running more than 100 miles.
- A Norwegian man named Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto arrived in Nome on February 2, 1925, just five days after leaving Nenana.
Here is a collection of Iditarod facts that I've picked up from the official iditarod.com website, the Iditarod Wikipedia page, and the official 2011 Iditarod guide:
- The Iditarod race begins on the first Saturday in March of every year.
- The first Iditarod race began on March 3, 1973.
- The teams average 16 dogs.
- There are two different Iditarod routes that are used on alternating years: A northern route (even years) and a southern route (odd years).
- There are 26 checkpoints on the northern route, including the first checkpoint being in Anchorage and the last in Nome. The southern route has 27 checkpoints. (Here are the 2011 Iditarod race checkpoints.)
- Martin Buser currently holds the record for the fastest Iditarod race time. Mr. Buser is a four-time Iditarod race champion, and set the record for the fastest Iditarod race time in 2002: Eight days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, 2 seconds.
- Carl Huntington won the 1974 race with the slowest winning time, 20 days, 15 hours, two minutes, and seven seconds.
- The closest finish was in 1978. Dick Mackey finished one second ahead of Rick Swenson. Like a close horse race, the winner was decided by the nose of the lead dog at the finish line.
- The largest number of mushers to finish an Iditarod race was 77 in 2004.
- There is a "Cermonial Start" to the Iditarod race in Anchorage on the first Saturday in March, and then the actual race begins in Willow with the Iditarod "restart" (which I just attended in 2011).
- Here’s a list of Iditarod race winners that I keep up to date.
Iditarod musher facts:
- Rick Swenson is the only five time winner of the Iditarod. He won the race in 1977, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1991. (He is the only person to win the Iditarod in three different decades.)
- A red lantern is awarded to the last musher to finish. The longest time for a Red Lantern was 32 days, 15 hours, nine minutes and one second by John Schultz in 1973.
- Both men and woman race the Iditarod. Four time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher won the Iditarod in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1990.
- Dallas Seavey is currently the youngest musher to ever race the Iditarod. He turned 18 on March 4, 2005.
- The oldest musher to ever compete in the Iditarod was Col. Norman Vaughan who will turn 88 in December. (CHECK HIS AGE WHEN HE RACED LAST)
- Rick Mackey won the race in 1983 to become the first son of an Iditarod champion. Lance Mackey then won the Iditarod race in 2007 to become the second son of an Iditarod champion to win the Iditarod.
As mentioned, all of this Iditarod facts and history information comes from three main sources at this time. The Official Iditarod website, the Wikipedia Iditarod page, and the 2011 Official Iditarod Guide that I purchased at the Iditarod restart event this past weekend.
Iditarod facts and history - Summary
I'll try to add more details to this Iditarod facts and history page over time, but right now I have to get ready for something else: We're supposed to have a Northern Lights show tonight, and I need to get on some warm clothes and get outside to see if I can finally see the Northern Lights!