The Last Great Race In Alaska Started March 1
By: c.j. pollick
CLEARWATER - On Saturday, March 1st, the 2008 Iditarod sled dog race began in Alaska.
This amazing Alaskan sled dog race has been referred to as "the last great race" for good reason; the race will begin in Anchorage, Alaska, and finish 1,150 miles north at Nome, Alaska. About 96 mushers will participate with about 1,500 sled dogs. Most of the mushers are from Alaska, but there are other mushers from places such as Ohio, Montana and Utah, plus foreign mushers from far places such as Germany and Italy. Suffice that this dog race tests the hearts of the special-bred sled dogs and the spirits of the weathered mushers. There are 10 to17 dogs in each sled dog team with plenty of food and supplies stored at the various mandatory stopping points along the treacherous snow-covered trails.
The race will start at Anchorage and move to Willow (the official start of the race) and proceed north through places such as Yentna, Finger Lake, Rainy Pass, Ruby, Unalakleet, Kayuk, Elim and White Mountain to Nome on the northwest coast. It is expected that mushers could take from 10 to 17 days to complete the entire race with temperatures varying from highs of 23 degrees to lows below zero. Days of moderate snow falls and days of near white-out snow conditions will need to be overcome by the winning teams. Of course, all finishers are considered winners in this race.
With current sign-ups of Iditarod mushers totaling 64, 45 are veteran Iditarod mushers and eight mushers are from other countries. Ages of mushers vary from the low twenties till ages of the upper fifties, such as the first registered musher G B Jones, age 59, from Wasilla, Alaska. Other mushers, such as Benedikt Beisch, of Germany, says his favorite things in life are "dogs and rock 'n roll." All of the registered Iditarod mushers would likely state that they are dog lovers, especially the 55-pound sled dogs that seem to be bred to do one thing, run all day while pulling a sled.
The Iditarod is "The Last Great Race."
(Note: Teachers that are interested can obtain student lesson plans on the Iditarod web site from a school teacher who will follow the 2008 sled dog race and help create an exciting learning experience for young students.)
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