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Everything You Need to Know About the Iditarod Race

In March 2024, 38 mushers competed in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska. Each musher commanded a team of 12-16 sled dogs along the race’s Northern Route, running an impressive total of 975 miles.


Here is your complete guide to the Iditarod sled dog race. 




What is the Iditarod Race?

The Iditarod is a sled dog race whose route runs from Anchorage to Nome. It takes its name from the Iditarod Trail, a mail route used during the Alaskan Gold Rush.


The Iditarod Race route honors musher Gunnar Kaasen and his dogsled team that trekked from Anchorage to Nome to deliver serum during a 1925 diphtheria epidemic.


The modern Iditarod mushing competition started in 1967, known as the Iditarod Trail Seppala Memorial Race. Now, this long-distance sled dog race is held in early March each year. 

 

Iditarod Race Facts


Dog Safety

Mushers and veterinarians work together before, during and after the Iditarod to guarantee that the sled dogs are healthy and ready to compete.


Mushers are responsible for caring for their dogs and ensuring they have excellent nutrition, hydration and rest.


On top of that, more than 40 licensed veterinarians are present on the trail to give the dogs routine evaluations and administer treatments as needed. 


According to the Iditarod Veterinary Center, within 30 days of the race starting, every dog gets pre-race blood tests and an ECG evaluation to check for any heart abnormalities.


Within 14 days of the race, a licensed vet gives each dog a complete pre-race physical examination and verifies that the dog’s vaccinations are up to date.


Throughout the race, “trail vets” with previous canine medical and surgical experience are available to care for the nearly 1,000 dogs traveling over 1,100 miles in just a 10-15 day time frame.  


“Race policies and rules are written with the greatest emphasis on the proper care and treatment of the dogs,” the Iditarod Veterinary Center says on its website. “Any musher found guilty of in­humane treat­ment would be disqualified and banned from competition in future Iditarods.” 

Iditarod Air Force

According to the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), an all-volunteer group of over 20 pilots fly veterinarians and race officials to mandatory checkpoints along the Iditarod race trail in their Cessna 180 or 185 Skywagons.


These pilots also deliver supplies like food and drop bags for racers and their teams.


The Iditarod Air Force aviators bring fuel for snow machines that are plowing the Iditarod trail before the mushers and their dogs come through. 


Once the Iditarod is over, the Air Force brings all racers, support staff and gear back to Anchorage. By the end of the race, the group of pilots will have flown close to 1,000 hours total.


2024 Winning Times

Experienced musher Dallas Seavey won the 2024 Iditarod race with a final time of nine days, two hours, 16 minutes and eight seconds. Musher Matt Hall from Two Rivers, Alaska came in about five hours after Seavey and Jessie Holmes from Brushkana, Alaska arrived a little over an hour after that.


Seavey, who is from Talkeetna, Alaska, is a third-generation musher and the first person to win the Iditarod six times. Seavey ran the Junior Iditarod four times and became the youngest musher in history to run the Iditarod in 2005. According to his bio, Seavey “is one of four mushers ever to hold a championship in both the Yukon Quest and Iditarod and one of two mushers to have won the Iditarod five times.”


Awards

There are a variety of awards given to different competitors annually at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race banquet in Nome. This year, Seavey took home $55,900 while the second place winner, Hall, got a $47,250 payout. In total, the 2024 Iditarod prize purse was $550,000. 


There are separate awards given to different racers based on specific criteria. Josie Thyr won the Rookie of the Year Award, which included a $2,000 check and commemorative trophy.


The final finisher of the Iditarod, Jeff Reid, took home the traditional Red Lantern Award and a $1,000 check. 


Other prizes include the “Most Improved Musher Award,” which comes with a commemorative trophy and $2,000 in cash, and the “Leonhard Seppaia Humanitarian Award.”


The veterinary team selected musher Wally Robinson to receive the humanitarian award, which goes to the musher who demonstrates outstanding dog care while staying competitive throughout the race. 


The Bottom Line: Iditarod Race

To watch the Iditarod next year, check out the livestream on iditarod.com.


If you’d rather watch this incredible race in person, take a trip to downtown Anchorage, stake out a spot along the route and get ready for mushers and their dogs to come racing by.


However you choose to watch, enjoy cheering on the sled dog teams in this historic race. 


If you're looking for more adventures in Alaska, check out our Alaska surf guide.


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