We love a good race, but we love them even more when they’re called “The Last Great Race on Earth”! What a title, right? This year, the forty-ninth Iditarod (or annual long-distance sled dog race) kicked off in Alaska with forty-seven mushers and their teams of dogs racing across the state on a route that takes an average of eight to fifteen days to finish. While this year’s race was shortened in order to keep everyone safe and healthy, it was still a grueling race that took winner Dallas Seavey and his team of dogs seven days, fourteen hours, and nearly nine minutes to complete. This is Seavey’s fifth win, making it an extra special moment for the veteran musher. Why? He now ties with Rick Swenson for the most Iditarod wins!
Now, if you’re wondering whether or not kids can join the fun, the answer is yes! The Jr. Iditarod has been around for forty-four years and kids between the ages of fourteen and seventeen are allowed to enter. Each team must consist of a musher and at least seven dogs. The route is mirrored after the Iditarod but it’s approximately 150 miles long, not a thousand. Nine teams entered the race this year, but it was fourteen-year-old rookie Morgan Martens from Wisconsin who finished first. That’s right, it was his first Jr. Iditarod and he won! Congratulations, Morgan!
Want to learn more about the Iditarod? Here are five fun facts about the race.
1. The Iditarod was founded by Joe Redington Sr., because he wanted to save the dog-sled culture of Alaska and turn the Iditarod Trail into a national historic trail.
2. The Iditarod began on March 3rd, 1973, and every year since, it has started on the first Sunday of March!
3. At the inaugural Jr. Iditarod, there were two divisions of racers, one for fifteen-to-seventeen-year-olds and the other for eleven-to-fourteen-year-olds. Now, there’s only one division.
4. In 2008, Jessica Klejka and her team of dogs won the Jr. Iditarod by two seconds!
5. Similar to how humans wear boots to keep their feet from getting hurt, dogs who race in the Iditarod wear booties to keep their paws from getting hurt.