Each year in early March, professional mushers and their dog teams converge on Anchorage, Alaska to run the Iditarod, a grueling race to Nome, more than 1,000 miles away, ostensibly in commemoration of the 1925 "Great Race of Mercy." That first "race" consisted of heroic dogs and sledders who rushed diphtheria serum to the stricken city, and ensured the sled dog Balto his place in doggie stardom (and a statue in Central Park). But the Iditarod's legacy has not been free of controversy. Join us as we explore the guts, glory, controversy, and fluffy protagonists of the long history of dog mushing, and examine the shifting relationships between human and canine that made it possible.
Tricia Brown. Iditarod. Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2014.
Gay and Laney Salisbury. The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic. New York: Norton, 2005.
Elizabeth Ricker and Leonhard Seppala. Seppala: Alaskan Dog Driver. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1930.
Kenneth Ungermann. The Race to Nome. Sunnyvale CA: Press North America/ Nulbay Associates, 1993.
Many Iditarod racers have written memoirs, including Libby Riddles, Rachel Scdoris, and Gary Paulsen.
However, I particularly enjoyed:
Brian Patrick O’Donoghue. My Lead Dog Was a Lesbian: Mushing Across Alaska in the Iditarod – the World’s Most Grueling Race. New York: Vintage, 1996.
This episode is part of our Doggy History Series.
Music: "Evening Melodrama" by Kevin Macleod (www.incompetech.com)