Iditarod Trail Invitational
Now it's one thing to race to Nome behind a team of sled dogs while more often than not riding on the sled. It's another thing entirely to travel 1,100 miles with nothing more than one's own internal steam. And with any luck, it won't run out before reaching Nome. Fortunately racers are at least aided by snow bikes to occasionally get up to cruising speed.
The Iditarod Trail Invitational is the world's longest winter ultra-race. Combined with it is a shorter, 350-mile race from Anchorage to McGrath. Both races attract professional competitors from around the world and have a 50 racer limit. The Iditarod Invitational in fact has a waiting list, attributing to its prestige.
Racers join together to showcase their cycling, skiing and on-foot endurance ability. Along the way they'll travel the Iditarod Trail, following the same course as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Aided by fat tires for floatation, each with knobs and studs, the cyclists embark on a journey that will test their bodies and minds. Racers will travel from Knik through Wasilla, Skwentna and McGrath. From there it's on to places like Cripple, Galena and Unalakleet. Then, having passed between countless mountains and across thousands of lakes, frozen marsh and tundra, racers skirt the coast of the Bering Sea on their way through White Mountain and on to Nome. They'll bear witness to some of the most beautiful winter scenes the Earth has to offer on their way to personal victory. Those scenes will also be comprised of every manner of obstacle the land has to offer, all while battling arctic conditions.
To watch these endurance cyclists take off from the start, visit Knik at 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 or plan to visit other view points along the trail or at the finish in Nome.
This year's race features 13 who are going the full distance: Six bikers, six on foot and one on skis.
More information is provided on the race Web site at its Web site.
Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race
The Iditarod is known the world over. Students as far away as the East Coast partake in classroom learning regarding the Iditarod and Alaska. Millions have seen televised documentaries and marvel at this display of traditional and historical transportation and teamwork of the far north. The Iditarod has in fact become an icon of Alaska, and it wouldn't surprise many if before long racers find themselves on trading cards and children boast of owning a rookie Lance Mackey card. Those who race seem to focus on this one time each year, their ultimate challenge and feat of endurance as dog mushers.
The Iditarod commemorates years when supplies and mail were transported to outlying communities and villages via sled dogs. In 1925 mushers and their dogs became heroes, having relayed diphtheria vaccine to the suffering population in Nome. Mushers were brave in crossing the frozen wilderness of Alaska and endured numerous threats to their lives and the lives of their dogs. Today's Iditarod carries on the time-honored tradition of dog sledding and commemorates the Iditarod Trail and those who ran its miles from behind a team of dogs.
The race route begins in Anchorage and follows the original Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, to Nome and the finish.
Along the way the mushers will navigate level yet wind-swept land, frozen lakes, unforgiving mountain terrain, climbs and descents, forests, overnights in harsh weather, poor visibility, and the list continues. During every minute they must also maintain control of their team and remain in good spirits since the dogs are quite aware of their master's mood and confidence. The dogs, too, must brave the elements, and any one of them could become injured, causing the team to be held up while the musher tends to the injury. These hardships will be endured for 1,150 miles and up to 17 days, depending on the speed of the team.