The Last Great Race
The Official Start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race begins today in Willow, Alaska, and anywhere from 9 to 14 days from now the winning musher will drive his or her team under the burled arch in Nome, almost 1,000 miles away. This is the 51st running of the most well-known and widely-respected sled dog race in the world.
Author Lew Freedman’s book Fifty Years of Iditarod Adventures: The First Fifty Years of The Last Great Race, published by Northern Light Media in January, 2022, details the history of event, with synopses of each annual race, records of all of the award winners, and biographies of many individuals and families who have contributed to make the race what it is today.
Lew recently shared a podcast in which he talks about the race, the dogs, the trail and the history. He discusses what it takes to be a musher (especially for a 1,000-mile race in uncertain weather conditions), how the event has evolved during its 51 years, and opportunities for the event to be a spectator sport. Along the way, there are also mentions of several Iditarod legends.
In 2019 Northern Light Media published The First Iditarod: The 1973 Race from Anchorage to Nome, by Helen Hegener. In this book several mushers who ran the first race, including Bill Arpino, Ken Chase, Howard Farley, Dave Olson, Rod Perry, Ford Reeves, Mike Schreiber, and Alex Tatum, share their memories of what it was like to be one of the original pioneers setting out on the then-unknown trail, captured through recorded and videotaped interviews conducted over a span of several years. The true, first-hand stories of what happened on that inaugural 1,049 mile race have since become legends.