Iditarod 2009: “Last Great Race” Gets Underway Tomorrow

The 2009 Iditarod, dubbed “The Last Great Race”, will have it’s ceremonial start tomorrow in downtown Anchorage, when 73 of the top mushers in the world will make the 20 mile first leg to Campbell Airstrip, where the race will officially get underway on Sunday.

This year’s race will be taking the southern route, as it typically does on the odd numbered years. The course is more than 1100 miles in length and stretches all the way to Nome, recreating the famous route that was taken by sled dog teams that delivered medicine to the remote regions of Alaska back in 1925, when a diphtheria epidemic broke out.

The field or racers for this year’s event include two time defending champ Lance Mackey along with his arch-rival Jeff King, who is a four time winner himself. They’ll be joined by the likes of Rick Swenson, the only five time winner of the race, and veteran racer Mitch Seavey, amongst many others. Sebastian Schnuelle, the winner of the Yukon Quest a few weeks back, is hoping to become the second man, after Mackey, to win both events in the same year.

It should be interesting to see who dominates the front of the race this year. Last year it was a game of cat and mouse between Mackey and King all the way to Nome, with Mackey pulling out ever trick in the book, including pretending to sleep, to get the edge on the faster and more well rested King. It’s unlikely that King will fall for similar tactics this year however. Perhaps we’ll see some new names rise to the top of the leaderboard, as the race seems to always have a few surprises waiting for us. Can’t wait to see what they are! Go luck everyone!

Kraig Becker

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