2020 Iditarod Trail Race – March Anchorage Alaska

2020 Iditarod Trail Race

The 2020 Iditarod starts March 8th

You really can’t compare the Alaska Iditarod to any other competitive event in the world! A race over 1150 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer. The Iditarod has jagged mountain ranges, frozen river, dense forest, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast at the mushers and their dog teams. Add to that temperatures far below zero, winds that can cause a complete loss of visibility, the hazards of overflow, long hours of darkness and treacherous climbs and side hills, and you have the Iditarod. Originally, the Iditarod trail served as a supply route for materials from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the gold fields and camps in Northwest Alaska in the early 1900’s. Mushers hauled mail and supplies to towns such as Iditarod and Nome and brought out just-mined gold. In 1925, it gained international fame when a team of mushers and dogs raced against time and the elements to relay diphtheria serum to Nome. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race originated in 1973.

The official Iditarod race starts on March 3rd in Willow.


Frequently teams race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, and sub-zero weather and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach -100 °F (-75 °C). The trail runs through Alaska, from the city of Anchorage in the southcental region of the state, up the Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range into the sparsely populated Interior, and then along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome in western Alaska. The teams cross a harsh but starkly beautiful landscape under the canopy of the Northern Lights, through tundra and spruce forests, over hills and mountain passes, and across rivers. While the start in Anchorage is in the middle of a large urban center, most of the route passes through widely separated towns and villages, and small Athapaskan and Inuit settlements. The Iditarod is regarded as a symbolic link to the early history of the state, and is connected to many traditions commemorating the legacy of dog mushing.
Iditarod Dogs

Today, the race has grown into an international contest with an average of 60 mushers from Alaska, Canada, the lower 48, Europe and Japan and South America. The youngest musher ever to race was 18 years old, the oldest was 86 years old. Sled dog racing is the only professional sport where men and women compete equally; there are no men’s and women’s divisions. In 1985 Libby Riddles was the first woman to win the Iditarod. Susan Butcher won the next 3 consecutive years and again in 1990. A popular saying during the 1980’s was “Alaska, where menare men, and women win the Iditarod”.

The ceremonial race start begins on the first Saturday in March in downtown Anchorage. The main street is blocked off and transformed into a sled dog track. Hundreds of cheering spectators line the street the morning of the race to watch the preparation and start of the Iditarod. The official start of the race is the next day in Willow, Alaska.

“Iditarod – The Last Great Race”

• Over 1,000 miles of the roughest, most beautiful terrain Mother Nature has to offer

• Crosses jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast

• Temperatures that fall far below zero, winds that can cause complete lack of visibility, overflow, longs hours of darkness

• Competitors from all walks of life all vying for an Ididarod Official Finishers belt buckle and the right to say “I finished the Iditarod”.

• Thousands of volunteers from Anchorage to Nome who make it all happen


• At the turn of the 20th century The Iditarod Trail was used as a mail and supply route from the coastal towns of Seward and Knik to the interior mining camps at Flat, Ophir, Ruby and beyond

• Mail and supplies went in, gold came out – all via dog sled in the winter

• Gold mining began to wane, people went back to where they had come from, and the trail was used less and less

• Airplanes ( in the 1920’s) signaled the beginning of the end of dog team travel in interior Alaska

• In 1925, part of the trail became a life saving highway as diphtheria threatened Nome and life-saving serum was taken by dog teams in relays from Nenana to Nome

• The late Dorothy G Page and the late Joe Redington, Sr. organized a short distance race in 1967 to commemorate the early use of the trail and the dog teams. That race was part of Alaska’s Centennial celebration that year.

• After a second short race in 1969, the first “long distance” Iditarod (from Anchorage to Nome) ran in 1973, the first of what has been 36 sled dog races along this trail.

• Congress declared the Iditarod Trail a National Historic Trail in 1978.

Iditarod finish in Nome

Nome gained fame more than 100 years ago for the fabulous wealth found in its mountains and its beaches of gold. In 1925, Nome gained a different kind of worldwide fame. A diphtheria epidemic struck the town, and bad weather prevented the delivery of serum by air from Anchorage. The serum was forwarded by train north to Nenana and then by dogsled relay to Nome. The delivery brought everlasting fame to Balto, the lead dog of the final team. This race against time was the inspiration for the Iditarod Sled Dog Race and several movies. Nome is now the finish line for the Iditarod.

On the web at: Iditarod headquarters.


  1. Patricia Black

    Worth mentioning is the fact that the sled dogs wear several changes of specially-made booties during the race, to protect their feet from the ice along the trail. Perhaps an expert can explain the materials used for these booties, how many are needed for the race, and who makes them. Thanks. We will be watching the Race. The one time we witnessed the race’s start in Anchorage was a year when there was no snow in Anchorage and they hauled truck-loads down from the surrounding mountains.


    If you are able –SEE IT. Our Grandchild is covering the race for the Alaska Dispatch News so we will have first hand info from her. Exciting!! Try to keep up to date with this interesting and AMAZING RACE.

  3. Mel Marti

    I think that these mushers and the people that run these races are very special people and LOVE those dogs like we in the south love our children. My wife and i had a chance to visit ALASKA in the summer of 2014 and met people that work with this race and they were great people to talk with Live in Canada winter in Texas LOVE you guys in the north Give the dogs a HUG for us Mel Martin

  4. Connie

    This will be my first trip to Nome. What are the must see. Where on Front street is the finish od the Iditarod?

  5. Charlie

    Visited Lance’s kennel last summer, the dogs were amazing, loved to run. His two helpers loved what they did and we enjoyed the dry land dog sled experience.

    We wish the best for Lance and his team!

  6. Dorothey McPherson

    Patricia Black. Im no expert just a fan… I use to live in Alaska and have followed it for years. Each musher is required to carriy a min. of 2 sets of booties for each dog , so if a musher starts out with 16 dogs thats 128 min. booties per race. Most are made from Duck Canvas. I volunteered to make booties for Lance Mackey and I made these out of Cordora. Its a stronger outdoors fabric. its a lot more expensive then the canvas. I know Lance’s mom has made his booties for years. I have seen them in catalogs however they run $3-$5 per bootie. On the Iditarod official website you can find a list of the required items a musher must carry with them and what can be shipped ahead to checkpoints. It very expensive to run in these races and the mushers realy appreciate fan and corporate sponsors.

  7. Joanne Brause

    I look forward to the race every year. I bet the dogs and mushers are ready to go. These dogs are amazing and I love how the mushers take such good care of them. Rubbing their peds with oil. I can’t wait for the race to start. The story of their heroism lives on and as I said, I look forward to the race every year; MUSH with respect.


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