Iditarod: Alaska’s 40th Iditarod
March 6, 2012 by staff
Iditarod: Alaska’s 40th Iditarod, When gasoline-powered machines that buzzed above the snow began replacing sled dogs as the preferable mode of transport across wintertime Alaska in the latter half of last century, something of a revolt against technology began to germinate.
Founders of the modern Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race decided 40 years ago to preserve the tradition dog mushing symbolized for the refugee from Outside and the Alaska sourdough alike — the fortitude, work ethic and self-reliance required of a life in the Last American Frontier.
Joe Redington Sr., principal organizer of the first race, probably wouldn’t mind being remembered as a revolutionary, though it’s another matter as to whether he’d fully condone Iditarod’s evolution into a spectacle that’s plotted and planned year-round by advertisers, salesmen, tech companies, Internet providers, journalists and a board of race officials, all seeking to profit off that pioneering spirit. Redington died in 1999.
On the 40th anniversary of the race he began, however, his heirs bookend the starting order for what Alaskans and the world have come to know as the Last Great Race, an annual, nearly thousand-mile test of endurance and perseverance for 66 men and women from across the globe, not to mention more than 1,000 canine athletes. They’ll all spend coming weeks working with and against each other, pushing sleds from another age across the still-wild heart of Interior Alaska, which for many spectators epitomizes hell frozen over.
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