Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Month of Races.

Snowmobiles Winter Yellowstone National Pa  Its the time of races here in Alaska.  The Yukon Quest, just finished a few days ago.  Right now the Iron Dog race is on and in a week or two,the Iditarod,  the biggest race of all times begins.

The Yukon Quest is a dog race covering 1000 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska to White Horse Yukon.  This race has happened every year since 1984 without fail.

The routing follows the gold rush and mail routes from the turn of the century, celebrating the highways used for transporting supplies across the norther frontier.  The race can last from 10 to 16 days depending on conditions, weather, etc.  It is always run in February.

Then there is the Iron Dog, a race of man on his snow machine against nature.   The racers cover over 2000 miles between Anchorage and Fairbanks via Unalakleet, and Nome.  It follows the northern path of the Iditarod race on its way to Fairbanks.  Originally, it was named the Iron Dog Iditarod but along the way the name changed to the Gold Rush Classic before it was changed to the Iron Dog Gold Rush Classic and it was changed one more time before it settled on the Iron Dog race.

Stops are set out no more than 120 miles apart and may be a real town or a tent with fuel set up along the trail.  Due to the cold temperatures, these racers often have the suspension break.  The race often takes days to finish.  The results give the time including the average miles per hour but the quickest ones can make the run in 40 hours of actual traveling but if you include the mandatory rests, it takes them about 75 hours.

Then comes the Iditarod race beginning on March 3rd with the start in Anchorage and the restart in Willow the next day.  This year they will be using the Southern routing which is about 1000 miles long.  It should take less than 2 weeks as long as conditions are good but right now the participants of the Iron Dog race are on a mandatory break due to weather issues on the way.

If you don't know the story, the original run happened in 1925, when the children of Nome were dying from diphtheria.  The closest medicine was in Anchorage.  It could not be shipped via water because the Nome harbor was frozen.  In desperation, the medicine was shipped up to Nenana where 20 drivers and over 150 dogs took turns riding cross country to get the medicine to Nome. 

In 1973, they revived the run to celebrate what the heroic nature of those who completed the run.  Although there was a budding aviation industry, in the lower 48, the dog sled was still the primary form of transportation in most of Alaska at this time. 

By the time the Iditarod is over, Alaskans know it is time to look for the longer days that signal spring.  Even if the snow does not melt till May, we know it will get warmer and spring is around the corner so to speak.

Let me know what you think.  I'd love to hear.

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