Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race: 101 What you need to know!

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is also called the “Last Great Race on Earth®”

This page gives basic answers to the 5Ws of the race – who, what, when, where, and why. Follow the posted links for a wealth of current information. And have fun learning more and sharing this with your students.



  • Mushers –  Current List of Mushers for the Race
  • Dogs!  Dogs!  Dogs!  Most of the sled dogs are Alaskan Huskies.  Dogs in the race must first meet standards of good health.  Iditarod Dog Care
  • Veterinarians are stationed at checkpoints during the race and involved in pre race examinations of the sled dogs.
  • Joe Redington, Sr., the ‘Father of the Iditarod’ is remembered as the founder of the Iditarod.  Joe Redington
  • Dorothy Page is remembered as the Mother of the Iditarod.  Read about her on our website. Dorothy Page
  • Volunteers are the backbone of the race, each year, volunteers help to stage the race by dedicating time and energy helping with many jobs.  Volunteering
  • Race fans follow the race and cheer the mushers on along the race trail.  Using Iditarod Insider, fans can follow the race viewing video on demand and GPS Tracking.  Insider is a subscription based platform.  An EDU account allows you and each of your students to use the Insider.
  • Sponsors provide important and essential financial and in kind support.  Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race sponsors

What is it?

  • A sled dog race from Anchorage to Nome – Iditarod’s website
  • The Iditarod does not commemorate the Serum Run of 1925.  The Serum Run does have something in common with Iditarod – besides the mushers, dogs, and checkpoints.  The Serum Run did use part of the Iditarod Trail, which is now a historic national trail. Misconceptions and More: Iditarod & the Serum Run


  • Annually, the race begins on the first Saturday in March at 10 a.m. and it ends when the last musher crosses the finish line in Nome.

Where?  Where does it start and end?  Where does the trail go?

  • The Saturday before the race, a ceremonial start takes place in downtown Anchorage at 10 a.m.
  • The actual race begins the following day on the lake in Willow, AK at 2 p.m.
  • In even years (2016, 2018, etc.) it takes the northern route and odd years (2015, 2017, etc.) it takes the southern route…typically.  Weather or other factors can alter the route.
  • In 2021, a never been done before route was used. The teams went out of and returned on the same trail.  Race map and Information About the Trail and Checkpoints

Why?  Why did this race get started?

  • For Joe Redington, the Father of the Iditarod, there were two most important reasons for the Iditarod Sled Dog race. He is quoted in Nan Elliot’s book, I’d Swap my Old Skidoo for You, “When I went out to the villages (in the 1950’s) where there were beautiful dogs once, a snow machine was sitting in front of a house and no dogs.  It wasn’t good.  I didn’t like that  I’ve seen snow machines break down and fellows freeze to death out there in the wilderness.  But dogs will always keep you warm and they’ll always get you there.”  He was determined to bring the sled dog back to the Alaskan lifestyle and to get the Iditarod Trail declared as a National Historic Trail.  Both dreams are alive today.

Where do I go to find lesson ideas for connecting the race to my curriculum?

Resource:  Iditarod EDU The Iditarod EDU website provides lessons and activities for teachers pre-k to secondary to help them connect the race to the standards that are being taught.  From STEM to music to physical education, the Iditarod EDU provides standards driven lessons and projects.