The Iditarod is a dog sled race that takes place in Alaska every March. The Iditarod trail is 1,050 miles long and goes from Anchorage to Nome.
In 1925, 20 dog sleds traveled this trail to deliver life-saving medicine to sick children. It took them only 6 days to reach Nome. The Iditarod race is held in memory of that event.
The first Iditarod was held in 1973. The winner of the race took 20 days to complete the journey. These days, the winner does the race in less than 10 days. Racers have cell phones with GPS and other high-tech equipment to help them through the difficult trek.
The driver of the sled is called a musher. Each musher has a team of dogs that pull the sled across frozen rivers, snowy ground, and steep mountains. Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies are the most common sled dogs. Mushers begin with a group of 30 dogs and pick the best 12 to 16 to compete in the race.
Some animal protection groups say that the Iditarod is cruel to the sled dogs. Sometimes dogs die during the race because they are pushed past their limit. The Iditarod Committee says that they carefully watch the dogs. They suspend any mushers who mistreat their sled dogs.
The word Iditarod comes from an Athabaskan Indian word pronounced "Hi-dit-a-rod." It means "a distant place."
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