By Tetsuhiko Endo; Photograph by Bob Hallinen, Landov, see more adventurers in our Ultimate Adventurers gallery.
The long, cold winter is winding down for most of us, but in Alaska, they are gearing up for one last hurrah. That’s right, the 86th Iditarod kicks off March 6. The dogsledding race goes from Anchorage to Nome, a distance of over 1,150 miles, passing through every kind terrain and weather that America’s 49th state has to offer—deep forests, desolate tundra, frozen rivers, mountain passes, windswept coastal plains, rain storms, snow storms, and the occasional gale-force wind. It may not be the last great race, as it is sometimes called, but it is certainly one of them.
“It's rich history is what makes it unique among dogsleding races,” says four-time Iditarod champ Lance Mackey. “The Iditarod Trail has been used as a route between villages for ages, for supplies and for travel during the Gold Rush days. When the diphtheria outbreak hit in 1925, the Iditarod Trail was used to save the lives of the people of Nome. You can’t help but think about this when you’re driving a team on this route.”