49th Running in the 49th State – Trail Reporting: Wednesday, March 10th

Wednesday, March 10th



There is always a big learning curve with regards to the vocabulary associated with the Iditarod. The quantity alone of race-related terminology can be overwhelming, not to mention the added challenge of pronouncing the names of certain checkpoints and even some of the mushers themselves! In my classroom, we always have a working list of new terms in addition to the 2 full pages of “Iditarod Terminology” I provide in students’ packets. Needless to say, the vocabulary can be slightly overwhelming at times, especially for beginning Iditarod teachers! 

Here is a link to get your list started with the terminology. https://iditarod.com/edu/what-those-mushing-words-mean/

Here is another link to help with the pronunciation of the checkpoints for the southern route. https://iditarod.com/zuma/virtual-trail-journey-pronunciation-and-quick-facts-southern-route/

Drop bags in Unalakleet. Photo Credit: Terrie Hanke

Welcome Sign on the community center at the Takotna checkpoint on Thursday March 7th during the 2019 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Photo by Jeff Schultz/ (C) 2019 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED













One vocabulary word that is new for my students each year is an Iditarod “rookie”. In most sports, a rookie is someone who is new or in his/her first year. This race is unique because there are mushers who have been Iditarod “rookies” more than once! A musher is no longer considered a rookie only after they complete their first race.

2020 Iditarod musher portraits from March 5, 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race 2020
Photo by Jeff Schultz/ (C) 2020 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This year Sean Underwood is one example of a musher who fits this category. Last year he made it about 940 of the 975 miles to Nome, when unfortunately he got  stuck in some deep overflow after leaving the Elim checkpoint. It was at that time that assistance was needed and ultimately, he had to scratch.



Teachers: Have your students write a position paper on the definition of an Iditarod “rookie”. Should a musher be considered a rookie just because they did not finish the race? Explore the definition of “rookie” and have your students decide for themselves!