Iditarod sled raceAlaska, with it’s stunning scenery and distance from the continental United States holds a romantic place in the minds of most American’s. There is still wildness there, and vast spaces and untamed land and its people are tough and maybe a bit eccentric. You expect things to be bigger and wilder and more spectacular in Alaska, and usually it delivers.

Today marks the beginning of one of sports more spectacular events, the running of the Iditarod sled dog race which opens with a ceremonial start in downtown Anchorage. Often called the Last Great Race, the Iditarod covers 1150 miles over snowy, rugged terrain across wild Alaska. It is held to commemorate the 1925 life-saving run made by sled dog to deliver serum to avert a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, Alaska. The official site of the race gives you a ringside seat to the spectacle offering streaming video, history of the race, up-to-the minute news, bios of mushers and dogs, an interactive map of the route, a tracker which lists each competitor and their position in the race and weather reports. From start to Red Lantern (the traditional award given to the last finisher) you can join in the excitement of the event from the warmth of your living room.

If you want to find out more about the Iditarod and it’s colorful history, the library has several books on the subject in the 798.8 call number area, including Gary Paulson’s lyrical Winterdance: the fine madness of running the Iditarod.