March 3 – 17, 2006. Since 1973, the world’s top mushers have gathered in Alaska to tackle the Iditarod’s 1,150-mile trail, which stretches from Anchorage to Nome.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, known as the “Last Great Race”, is an annual dog sled race in Alaska, where mushers and teams of dogs cover more than 1,000 miles in less than two weeks, frequently through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, and sub-zero weather and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach minus 100 F.
This year keep an eye on some of the women competitiors including DeeDee Jonrowe who has been mushing for over 20 years; Judy Currier, a member of the Two Rivers Dog Mushers; Aliy Zirkle winner of the Yukon Quest in 2000; 23 year old Jessica Hendricks, Oregonian Rachel Scdoris who is legally blind; and Lynda Plettner who is competing in her 12th Iditarod.
Big Susitna River
A type of sock that is made to protect the dog’s feet from small cuts and sores made of various materials, i.e., denim, polar fleece, trigger cloth, etc.
The finish line in Nome
Come Gee! Come Haw!
Commands for 180 degree turns in either direction.
Dog in Basket
Tired or injured dog carried in the sled
Two dogs who lead the team side by side.
A dog that the musher has dropped from his team at a checkpoint. The dog is cared for at the checkpoint until it is flown back to Anchorage to the musher’s handlers.
Command for right turn
Command for left turn
Any northern type dog.
Lead Dog or Leader
Dog who runs in front of others. Generally must be both intelligent and fast.
Command to lead dog to pull the team out straight from the sled. Used mostly while hooking dogs into team or unhooking them.
Term often used by old timers for any sled dog. Larger husky
Mush! Hike! All Right! Let’s Go!
Commands to start the team
Pushing the sled with one foot while the other remains on the runner
Collection of lines to which dogs are attached. Includes tow line, tug lines and neck lines
The two bottom pieces of the sled which come in contact with the snow.
Medium sized (average 50 pounds) northern breed of dog, recognized by the American Kennel Club. Siberians usually have blue eyes.
Thin strips of wood which make up the bottom of a wooden sled basket.
Swing Dog or Dogs
Dog that runs directly behind the leader. Further identified as right or left swing depending on which side of the tow line he is positioned on. His job is to help “swing” the team in the turns or curves.
A long chain with shorter pieces of chain extending from it. Used to stake out a team when stakes aren’t available.
Small pieces of ivory or wood used by Eskimos to fasten tug lines to harnesses
Request for right-of-way on the trail.
Line that connects dog’s harness to the tow line.
Wheel Dogs or Wheelers
Dogs placed directly in front of the sled. Their job is to pull the sled out and around corners or trees.
Command used to halt the team, accompanied by heavy pressure on the brake.
Did You Know?
Iditarod dogs are not driven with reins, but by spoken commands. The leader of the team must understand all that is said to him and guide the others accordingly. An intelligent leader is an absolute necessity. At times it appears that there is ESP between musher and lead dog. Don’t be surprised if you hear a musher have an in-depth conversation with her lead dog.