The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

The Iditarod, the granddaddy of all Sled Dog races started this week. This annual race is 1049 miles and runs from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers and teams of 12 to 16 dogs cover that distance in 9 to 15 days. It started in 1973 to determine the best musher and has quickly evolved into a highly competitive race. The Iditarod is regarded as a symbolic link to the early history of the state and is connected to many traditions commemorating the legacy of dog mushing.

All the dogs have to pass a stringent veterinary check before the race and at check points along the route. The veterinarians are all volunteers and they put in long hours making sure the dogs are healthy. They concentrate on the dogs’ cardiovascular systems to make sure they are healthy enough to run as well as their legs, feet and joints. This year all the dogs must be vaccinated for kennel cough before they can compete in the race. After three days of racing, the entire field of mushers remains intact – none have scratched. This is almost unbelievable and worth asking about. Chief Veterinarian, Stu Nelson, didn’t have any reason as to why there weren’t any scratches but he did observe that they have a larger than usual number of dogs to care for at this point in the race. Race Judge, Al Marple, answered the question with two words – good weather. He felt that the elements were in the musher’s favor – no harsh storms, high winds or extremely low temperatures. Some of the mushers attributed the full field to the condition of the trail – plenty of snow. It may be soft and a little slow, it’s not punishing. Areas that often take a huge toll on mushers like the Happy River steps were covered in deep snow making the descent far better than its been in recent races.

These dogs are amazing and love what they do….and if there is any doubt about their health or fitness, they are removed from the race by the check point veterinarians.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE IDITAROD?

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race

The Iditarod, the granddaddy of all Sled Dog races started this week. This annual race is 1049 miles and runs from Anchorage to Nome. Mushers and teams of 12 to 16 dogs cover that distance in 9 to 15 days. It started in 1973 to determine the best musher and has quickly evolved into a highly competitive race. The Iditarod is regarded as a symbolic link to the early history of the state and is connected to many traditions commemorating the legacy of dog mushing.

All the dogs have to pass a stringent veterinary check before the race and at check points along the route. The veterinarians are all volunteers and they put in long hours making sure the dogs are healthy. They concentrate on the dogs’ cardiovascular systems to make sure they are healthy enough to run as well as their legs, feet and joints. This year all the dogs must be vaccinated for kennel cough before they can compete in the race. After three days of racing, the entire field of mushers remains intact – none have scratched. This is almost unbelievable and worth asking about. Chief Veterinarian, Stu Nelson, didn’t have any reason as to why there weren’t any scratches but he did observe that they have a larger than usual number of dogs to care for at this point in the race. Race Judge, Al Marple, answered the question with two words – good weather. He felt that the elements were in the musher’s favor – no harsh storms, high winds or extremely low temperatures. Some of the mushers attributed the full field to the condition of the trail – plenty of snow. It may be soft and a little slow, it’s not punishing. Areas that often take a huge toll on mushers like the Happy River steps were covered in deep snow making the descent far better than its been in recent races.

These dogs are amazing and love what they do….and if there is any doubt about their health or fitness, they are removed from the race by the check point veterinarians.

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