The Last Great Race, also known as the Iditarod, gets underway this weekend, with the ceremonial start in Anchorage, Alaska taking place tomorrow and the proper start from Willow on Sunday. The annual event is amongst the longest and most challenging sled dog races in the world, with this year’s course covering 1131 miles between Anchorage and Nome.
The Idiatrod has two routes that alternate each year, with the 2011 version taking the southern route through Shageluk, Anvik, and Grelying. Depending on the weather, the race should take roughly 10-15 days to complete. The top teams can cover the distance faster however, as long as the conditions are right.
The field is once again deep and talented, with a number of former winners hoping to cross the finish line in first place once again. Chief amongst them is Lance Mackey, who flirted with retirement after winning the race for the fourth straight year in 2010. Mackey is back to try to claim a fifth title, and heading into the event he is definitely the man to beat.
Keep an eye out for Dallas Seavey as well. He’s coming off a huge win in the Yukon Quest a few weeks back, and has plenty of experience despite his 23-years of age. Seavey is also the son of former champ, Mitch Seavey who is hoping for another win as well. Other notables to watch include Hans Gatt, Martin Buser, and Sebastian Schnuelle.
Watch for regular updates on the event over the next few weeks. It is always one of my favorite races to watch each year, and the Iditarod never fails to provide plenty of excitement and drama. This year will be no exception I’m sure.
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