February 15, 2019

V.O.L.U.N.T.E.E.R.

Vibrant, Organized, Loyal, Unswerving, Necessary, Tenacious, Energetic, Eager, Remarkable!

That is how we would describe our amazing volunteers!

The Iditarod, a world-class premier dog sled race, is led and guided by a highly qualified board and top-notch, experienced and capable staff. But it is no secret that the race and preparations leading up to and finishing work following the actual event are executed through 1,500-2,000 volunteer positions.

Some volunteers are highly visible to the public eye. You’ll see many of them at the ceremonial start in Anchorage doing things such as security, trail guard, musher parking, and dog handling. And again for the re-start in Willow, they will be loading and unloading trucks, setting up the starting line and chute, registering volunteers, and tearing down and cleaning up.

Most of them, you will not see; numerous positions are behind the scenes and all around Anchorage, at headquarters at Wasilla, and in Willow. They staff race communications, answer phones, assist making foot ointment for the dogs, aid in musher food drop, dog food drop, and straw drop, to name a few.

Along the trail, many of the volunteers are from the communities through which the race passes; they welcome the mushers, veterinarians, checkers, pilots, communications, and media folks (also volunteers) and do a lot of the work needed in that checkpoint. Often the whole village is involved in some way.

Some have been doing it for decades. Some have done it once. Some travel from far away to volunteer each year. Some are locals.One thing is sure – every volunteer that works any amount of time is necessary to the success of the race each year.

The scope of the volunteer program can’t be described in a single article, so watch for more articles unfolding the stories of these amazing people and the hard work and dedication they have for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.