iditarod dog race

Iditarod trail sled dog race winner Thomas Waerner

Norwegian musher Thomas Waerner won the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on wednesday, his second atempt at the race accross Alaska. Waerner and his dogs completed the 1609 km race in nine days, 10 hours and 37.5 minutes.

Thomas Waerner Iditarod
Thomas Waerner mushes into Unalakleet on Sunday, March 15, 2020 during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (Loren Holmes / ADN)

2020 Iditarod Race Map

Iditarod race map

What does Iditarod Mean? The word comes from the Ingalik Indian word HaIditarod which was the name for the river on which the town was built. It means distant place.

Why do they do the Iditarod race? Redington had two reasons for organizing the long-distance Iditarod Race: to save the sled dog culture and Alaskan huskies, which were being phased out of existence due to the introduction of snowmobiles in Alaska; and to preserve the historical Iditarod Trail between Seward and Nome. Alaskan Malamute Image

What is the prize for winning the Iditarod? The total prize purse is about $500,000, with the winner taking about $50,000 and a new pickup truck. The winner is expected to reach Nome about eight or nine days after Sunday’s official start in Willow.


How long can sled dogs run without a break? It is not uncommon for a team to run 100 miles or more without a substantial break. The general rule of thumb on long distance races is to maintain an equal run/rest schedule. So if you’ve been going on the trail for 4 hours, try to take a 4 hour break at the next checkpoint.

How far can a dog sled go in a day? Even for a born musher, pulling sleds up to 100 miles in a day is hard work. Sled dogs require a lot of calories (up to 12,000 calories per day!)

Iditarod dogs

Do Iditarod mushers sleep? Mushers sleep very little during the race. There is a designated sleeping area for the dog drivers at each checkpoint, but other than one 24-hour and two eight-hour mandatory rests, competitors push themselves to stay awake. 

How dangerous is the Iditarod race? Overexertion leads to death for some of the race dogs. A host of medical problems can crop up, from foot problems, dehydration and viruses to ulcers, hypothermia and heart problems. A seemingly content team of dogs can engage in a dog fight. When a dog team gets tangled up, dogs can be strangled.

iditarod dogs in a race

How many dogs have died in the Iditarod? 27 dogs. At least 27 dogs used in the Iditarod have died just since 2004. In 2016, Nash died after being hit by a snowmobile during the race. In 2015, dogs Stiffy and Wyatt both died on the trail, and a dog named Stuart got loose and was later hit by a car.

Are dog sleds cruel? Based on our experiences and research, we would say dog sledding isn’t any worse than riding a horse. In fact, the dogs are probably treated better. If anybody ever asks us, is dog sledding cruel, we can strongly stand by our experience and say that we don’t believe it is in the slightest.

Links to sled dog breeds: Great sled dogs; Siberian Husky; Alaskan Malamute; Husky vs Malamute; Greenland dog; Samoyed.

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