Annual Iditarod Is Only For Brave At Heart

| 2/18/2015 9:56:00 AM

Country MoonIt’s a good thing that each of us is unique and has our own likes and dislikes. I admire individuality and respect what each person’s passion is, even if it is totally out of my realm. Even though I am a winter person and like the snow, I never could be a musher with a sled dog team although I have the utmost respect for anyone who does.

The annual Alaskan Iditarod is just around the corner, due to kick off this year on March 7. The 1,049-mile dog sled race literally pits man and animal against nature’s most extreme conditions. On a normal day, competitors can encounter jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, desolate tundra, miles of windswept coast, and winds that can cause complete loss of visibility in wind chills of up to minus 100 degrees.

Dog sledding from the rider's perspective | 

Dog sledding from the rider's perspective | 

So, what draws a person to endure these conditions for 15 or more days? It has to be nothing but the pure excitement of the challenge that beckons more than 50 mushers each year to put their lives up against the elements just to win the race. It’s certainly not for everyone and not just everyone may enter.

Only experienced mushers who qualify by taking part in three smaller races may compete. It also takes a little dough to get your team entered. Mushers spend a year in training and raising money for the three weeks on the trail. The combined cost of the entry fee, dog maintenance and transportation is usually between $20,000 to $30,000, with the Top 10 teams spending somewhere between $80,000 to $100,000 per year. This is all for a chance to take the prize money of roughly $50,000. Guess with these figures there are no financial advisers competing! However, mushers do come from all walks of life including fishermen, lawyers, doctors, artists, natives and many more.

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