A student recently asked how this crazy race got started. In 1948 Joe Redington, Sr. moved his family from the lower 48 to the great state of Alaska. He fell in love with the land and the culture, including the running of sled dogs. He had a keen sense of adventure as he traveled the state on his sled. There aren’t roads to some of the small villages in Alaska, and the way to get to them was using dog teams.
In the late 1960s and early 70s, the use of snowmobiles (Iron Dogs) was taking over travel around the state. Joe Redington, in an effort to keep the spirit of the sled dog alive, created a race using the Historic Iditarod Trail. There were a few short races in 1968 and 69, but in 1973 the first race from Anchorage to Nome – now known as the Iditarod – was born.
As the years went on more rules were added, more volunteers helped out, more pilots flew, more staff organized, and more students learned. The race rules have evolved over the years to keep the dogs and mushers safe. This year is the 49th running of this race, and it will be different from all the rest, but the spirit of the sled dog is being kept alive.
This is a very short doggie version of the history of the Iditarod and if you want to learn more simply search the Iditarod Website. There is a LOT to learn and a LOT of resources on the site. If you have a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check back here for answers to your questions.