The Iditarod Trail, now a National Historic Trail, had its beginnings as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond to the west coast communities of Unalakleet, Elim, Golovin, White Mountain and Nome. Mail and supplies went in. Gold came out. All via dog sled. Heroes were made, legends were born.
In 1925, part of the Iditarod Trail became a life saving highway for epidemic-stricken Nome. Diphtheria threatened and serum had to be brought in; again by intrepid dog mushers and their faithful hard-driving dogs. The Iditarod is a commemoration of those yesterdays, a not-so-distant past that Alaskans honor and are proud of.
This race is a bit different then then the Yukon Quest in that there are more checkpoints and it goes through more communities, i.e. mushers don't have to rely so much on wilderness camping. This year there is a record 96 teams in the race. For both the Yukon Quest & the Iditarod mushers must first qualify for the race through other shorter races. One year there was no snow in Anchorage so they had to hold the start in Fairbanks - two dear friends of mine (who took the pictures on this page) from Europe were particularly fascinated by the range of clothing you could see even at 40 below zero; everything from shorts & t-shirt, complete homemade fur get-ups (including a skunk hat!), carhardts and bunny boots, and military fatigues for the folks from the base.