The Iditarod sled dog race will end around noon today on Front Street in Nome, Alaska. The racers started last week on Fourth Avenue in Anchorage for a ceremonial start and then they restart near Wasilla; it’s hard to run dogsleds down the eight lane Glenn Hwy. now, but I can remember when the start on 4th was the real start of the race. The advertised distance is 1049 miles but it varies a bit year to year. The race is to commemorate and somewhat replicate the Serum Run to Nome in the early 20th Century when sled dogs were the ONLY way to get to Nome in winter and Nome had a diptheria epidemic. The mushers of that day were freighters and mail carriers impressed to get the vital serum to faraway Nome by taking relays through the wilderness. If any of you New Yorkers have wondered what the story of that dog whose statue is in Central Park might be, he’s Balto, the lead dog of the team that delivered the serum.
These days, keeping and running dogs is a hobby and a sport and an expensive one at that; nobody works dogs any more. But the Iditarod celebrates a time before airplanes, cell phones, and cable TV in Bush Alaska when remote was REALLY remote. Take a look at the Anchorage Daily News’ pictures and stories here: http://www.adn.com/iditarod/2009/story/727312.html
This is one story where so far even the herds of Lower 48 Lefties that haunt the ADN blogs can’t find something bad to say about Gov. Palin and Alaska’s degenerate population, and that’s a pleasant interlude too.