Rescuing Alaskan Malamute and Nordic Mix Breeds in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain Region

2012 IDITAROD: “The Last Great Race”

“The Iditarod is “the Last Great Race” and is the world premier dog sled race held annually in Alaska. “Iditarod” means “clear water” and was named by the Shageluk Indians for the Iditarod River, in Alaska. The first Iditarod race was from Anchorage to Nome in 1973. It incorporates the humane treatment of dogs with the traditional mushing skills in the challenge & wonder of the Alaska wilderness (about 975 miles in length). This year’s event begins March 3rd and usually ends with the last dog sled crossing the finish line within 13-14 days. Teams average 16 dogs, which means over 1,000 dogs leave Anchorage at the start of the race. The largest number of mushers to complete the race was 77 in 2004. The rules of the race lay out certain regulations. There are pieces of equipment each team must have — an arctic parka, a heavy sleeping bag, an ax, snowshoes, musher food, dog food and booties for each dog’s feet to protect against cutting ice and hard packed snow injuries.
Each musher has a different strategy — some run during the day, some run at night. Each one has a different training schedule and method and his own ideas on dog care, dog stamina and his own personal ability. Each musher has a special diet for feeding and snacking their dogs. Mushers spend an entire year getting ready and raising the money needed to get to Nome. Some prepare around a full-time job. In addition to planning the equipment and feeding needs for three weeks on the trail, hundreds of hours and hundreds of miles of training have to be put on each team.

A red lantern is awarded to the last musher to finish the race. This year’s event is conducted on an “even year”, so the Northern trail route will be the one used (on “odd years,” it’s the Southern route). Huskies and Malamutes are generally used more for power than speed, but the mixed breed dogs are bred for speed, power, and ease of training. Most mushers will have a few Huskies and Malamutes on their team to provide an extra “push”, but past that Iditarod racers will usually opt for mixed breeds. Colorado’s own Nancy Russell, of Snow Kloud Kennels, had a full team of Alaskan Malamutes at the 1994 Iditarod.”

2012 Colorado Iditarod Mushers:
Bib 4: William Pinkham, Glenwood Springs -
Bib 5: Tom Thurston, Oak Creek -
Bib 66: Lachlan Clarke, Buena Vista -

Read more:

Race History:
2012 Trail:
Champions & Record Holders:
Mushing Terminology:
1994 Malamute Iditarod Team:
2012 Mushers:
2012 Dog Montage (video):
Northern LIghts over McGrath, Alaska (video):
Iditarod Photo Gallery:
Virtual Field Trip to the Iditarod (powerpoint):
For Kids:
Iditarod Jigsaw Puzzle:
Iditarod Coloring Page:
Iditarod Cryptogram:

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