Tuesday, March 7, 2006

For Iditarod Racers, No Place Like Nome

And they're off!

Eighty-three teams of mushers and dogs set off last weekend on the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The winning team will cover more than 1,100 miles in nine or 10 days.

Here are some facts about the famous race:

· The first Iditarod from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, was run in 1973. It is run, in part, to remember a lifesaving sled dog relay in 1925 that sent much-needed medicine from Anchorage to Nome.

· The musher is the person who drives the dog sled. Author Gary Paulsen, in his third Iditarod, dropped out of the race yesterday morning.

· Each sled dog team has 12 to 16 dogs. Many of the dogs used are malamute and Siberian huskies, although other dog types are used.

· Dogs are actually faster than horses over long distances. They can average 8 to 12 miles an hour for hundreds of miles.

· Iditarod is an Indian word that means either "distant place" or "clear water."

· Because the cold, snow and distance can be hard on the dogs, there are about 35 veterinarians to care for the animals during the race. However, dogs have died during the race.

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