2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska

"Iditarod Trail"
2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska

There’s a whole lot of harness-banging going on in Anchorage, Alaska today. I’m at the March 6th ceremonial start of the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race – the Last Great Race – taking place across the Alaskan wilderness.

MUSHERS FROM NEAR AND FAR

Dog mushers come from as near as Willow, Alaska and as far as Aberdeen, Scotland and St. Anne, Jamaica to compete in this 1,049 mile Iditarod sled dog race to Nome, Alaska. Seventy one mushers will guide their Iditarod sled dogs as they manuever over Rainy Pass, the highest point on the trail, through bumpy Nikolai, and over frozen tundra, eventually reaching Nome, Alaska.

Quick Iditarod sled dog mushers are rewarded in Cripple, an abandoned mining town and the race’s halfway point. The first musher to Cripple is rewarded with a $3,000 check.

CHICAGO MUSHER COPES WITH CANCER

Chicago Musher Pat Moon has been dealing with more than logistical problems as he tackles this Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Moon, 33, has been fighting non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood malignancy. Iditarod Update: Unfortunately, Moon crashed into a tree on Tuesday while navigating a gorge and had to be dropped from the race.

JAMAICA ROOKIE

"Newton Marshall"
Jamaican Iditarod Sled Dog Musher Newton Marshall

Another rookie musher, Newton Marshall of Jamaica, will have to cope with drastic Alaska weather conditions during the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Unlike his native Jamaica, hurricane-velocity winds and blizzards are common as the trail crosses Norton Sound to Koyuk.

WHO WILL WIN 2010 IDITAROD SLED DOG RACE?

Who will be the first to cross the finish line in Nome, Alaska to win the Iditarod sled dog race? Will it be Alaska’s Jeff King? The 54-year-old King, a four-time champion, hopes to end his Iditarod career with a bang. I certainly remember holding puppies at his Husky Homestead Tour in Denali Park.

What about Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, Alaska? Mackey hopes to win his fourth straight Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Update: Mackey won his fourth consecutive Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

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Let’s not forget about DeeDee Jonrowe, a breast cancer survivor, Jonrowe started the 2003 Iditarod Sled Dog Race just three weeks after finishing chemotherapy.

Young musher Dallas Seavey, 22 of Seward, hopes to follow father Mitch Seavey, the 2004 Iditarod Sled Dog Race champion, in bringing home the title.

On the other end of the age spectrum, Chuglak’s Jim Lanier, at 69 years of age, will be singing to his sled dogs as he races the Iditarod. Lanier, along with his wife and son, serenaded us at the Iditarod Sled Dog Musher’s Banquet with their beautiful voices. Is that what keeps his dog’s running?

Finally, four-time champion Martin Buser of Big Lake, Alaska, holds the Iditarod Sled Dog Race record of eight days, 22 hours and 46 minutes.

Who is your favorite to win the 2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race? What are your favorite things to do in Anchorage, Alaska?

Related Post:

What to pack for Alaska Winter Vacation

Thank you to the Anchorage Convention & Visitors Bureau and Alaska Travel for allowing me and inside look at the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.

Photos and video by Nancy D. Brown

8 thoughts on “2010 Iditarod Sled Dog Race, Alaska”

  1. Margery Glickman

    For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. Six dogs died in the 2009 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer’s team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race. During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren’t even reported.On average, 52 percent of the dogs who start the race do not make it across the finish line. According to a report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, of those who do finish, 81 percent have lung damage. A report published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine said that 61 percent of the dogs who complete the Iditarod have ulcers versus zero percent pre-race.Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses…… wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper.Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective. It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death.During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod’s chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he’s going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?Most Iditarod dogs are forced to live at the end of a chain when they aren’t hauling people around. It has been reported that dogs who don’t make the main team are never taken off-chain. Chained dogs have been attacked by wolves, bears and other animals. Old and arthritic dogs suffer terrible pain in the blistering cold.The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.Margery GlickmanDirectorSled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org

  2. @MargeryThank you for your form letter. As I am not a veterinarian, nor am I a dog sled musher, I will not attempt to respond to your comments on a point by point basis. However, I can assure you that the Iditarod mushers do take good care of their dogs. In fact, most dogs are tended to before the musher tends to himself at every checkpoint.While it is true that dogs don’t get full vet checks at every point, the dogs are, indeed, checked by veterinarians. If the dogs don’t have a passion for running, they are not selected to compete in the Iditarod race.As is the case with shopping center pet stores, it is the consumers responsibility to check that they are not supporting puppy mills. I have visited several Iditarod kennels. The owners are invested in these dogs and their well being. Unfortunately, when it comes to live animals, there are always poor owners that set a poor example for others.

  3. Eager for results, which are hard to come by this year. It’s even difficult to find out whether any network will be broadcasting this year. Once upon a time, Outdoor Life Network showed it. Now ON something else, and perhaps no one is showing the Last Great Race. BTW, did you get out of Anchorage to any of the checkpoints?

  4. @Claire You can follow the Iditarod on Twitter @iditarodlive.My money is on Lance Mackey!I left that evening to cover the World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, so no checkpoint stops for me.Very exciting to be a part of the Iditarod festivities in Anchorage.

  5. One of my favorite childhood books was Aunt Lulu – about an Alaskan librarian and her 14 huskies. I’d love to make it to Alaska one day. Thanks for this great reminder!

  6. @margery…..is a fraud. She is obviously very much misinformed about the Iditarod, sled dogs, and mushing in general. She would be well advised to come to Alaska and see for herself to get her facts straight.

  7. The owners are invested in these dogs and their well being. Unfortunately, when it comes to live animals, there are always poor owners that set a poor example for others.

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