Pop Culture dictionary

Iditarod

or Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race [ ahy-dih-tuh-rod ]

What is the Iditarod?

The Iditarod is an annual sled dog race in Alaska run on what’s known as the Iditarod Trail. It is the longest annual sled dog race in the world.

The length of the trail is usually around 1,000 miles. The trail varies but traditionally runs between the Alaskan cities of Anchorage and Nome.

Racers, known as mushers, race with a team of 14 sled dogs that pull their dogsled. The winner of the race usually finishes in eight or nine days.

Mushers stop at checkpoints along the way to rest, gather supplies, treat injuries, or repair damage to their sled, and veterinarians are posted at checkpoints throughout the trail to care for injured dogs. Many dogs have died during the Iditarod.

The Iditarod is nicknamed The Last Great Race. 

When is the Iditarod?

The Iditarod begins each year on the first Saturday in March. The 2021 Iditarod begins on March 6. The 2022 Iditarod is scheduled to start on March 5, 2022.

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Related words

doggo, dog walk

Where does Iditarod come from?

In 1967, a sled dog race was proposed to mark the 100th anniversary of Alaska becoming a United States territory. The race was planned to be run on the Iditarod Trail, which had been a route to the town of Iditarod during the Alaskan gold rush that started in the late 1800s.

The first two Iditarod races were only about 50 miles long. The modern version of the race began in 1973, with the finish line moved to Nome.

Examples of Iditarod

BREAKING: Mitch Seavey, 57, becomes oldest musher to win nearly 1,000-mile Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race across Alaska.
@AP, March 14, 2017
Pete Kaiser is the first musher under the burled arch and wins the 47th Iditarod, becoming the first Yup’ik and first Alaskan Native to win since 2011! Welcome to Nome, what color truck you getting?!
@oshanada, March 13, 2019
The 1985 Iditarod was atypical. Bad weather forced race officials to stop the competition twice because it was impossible for aircraft to deliver the dogs’ food to more distant checkpoints. Consequently, mushers had to huddle together at checkpoints, seek out the homes of gracious backwoods friends, or remain in the cold.
Alice George, e , March 11, 2020
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More information and context on Iditarod

Did you know … ?

  • It is a tradition of the Iditarod to keep a lantern lit at the finish line until the final musher completes the race.
  • The race’s last-place finisher is awarded a similar lantern.
  • In 1985, musher Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod.

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