It’s been another great day on the snowy Iditarod Trail! The race is labeled “about” 1,049 miles across Alaska. Many people ask this question about sled dogs. “Do they get to rest on this long race?” The answer is a resounding, “Yes!”
Mushers are like students. Many plan out their schedules very carefully: run 3 hours, rest 3 hours or 1.5 and 1.5. It varies with the terrain, or land. When teams stop either in a checkpoint or on the side of the trail, the dogs usually get straw, “kick off their booties,” get a meal or at least a snack of frozen meat or fat and kibble, and then they curl up to sleep. Often, mushers will plan longer rests in the afternoon, the warmest part of the day. The best temperature for dogs to run is around 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If it warms up to 20 degrees F., the dogs can overheat. Mushers will plan to rest in warm times, and run in cooler times (even at night!)
Look at this screenshot taken from the Iditarod GPS tracker of musher Brent Sass’s run/rest schedule. The higher green lines are runs. When the green lines drop off, that is a rest. He has a pretty even run/rest schedule for his dogs! [Thanks to Iditarod journalist Sebastian Schnuelle for this information.]
Check out other musher’s schedules!
While dogs do get the rest they need, mushers usually don’t, because they are taking care of us dogs; but that’s a topic for another day.
Until next time, this is your canine reporter,