Known as the “Last Great Race on Earth,” the Iditarod is renowned worldwide. The race begins in Anchorage and ends in Nome, Alaska. Teams of 12 to 16 dogs traverse over 1500 miles of rural wilderness in just 10 to 17 days. Mushers travel from around the world to participate by racing their way through blizzards, high winds, and cold temperatures sometimes as low as –100° F (–73° C), all with a loyal team of huskies. Mushers will be hitting the trails on
March 1, 2013.
The Barkie Birkie Skijor Race offers a 3 km or 5 km race. Skijoring, which gets its name from a Norwegian word meaning ski driving, is a sport that combines cross–country skiing and dogsledding—skiers are tied to their dogs, and they both race to the finish. Most dogs weigh 30 pounds or more and can be trained to pull skiers (participants must be at least 13 years old). Skiers and their loyal pups will race through the city of Hayward on February 22, 2013.
The largest long–distance race in Europe, the Femundløpet takes place each year in Norway, starting and ending in the historic mining town of Røros. The 2013 Femundløpet takes place from January 31 to February 5. Dogs and their mushers compete against each other and the elements: temperatures can reach as low as –58 °F (–50 °C), and high winds, snowstorms, and whiteouts often threaten the teams. The trail runs through hiking and wilderness areas, including sites where reindeer herds live, so participants are asked to respect the land and its wildlife.
The International Sled Dog Races and Nordic Dog Festival take place the last weekend of January each year with around 120 teams and 800 dogs traveling to this city to compete. Other events here include a sledding race, trapper courses (where participants are taught how to track and hunt animals), sleigh rides for children, a dog fashion show, igloo building, quality reindeer bonding time, and Nordic trivia contests. All this and more will be happening at this year’s festival.
The North Hope Sled Dog Center is an orphanage where young boys raise and work with sled dogs to learn about commitment and love. Many of the boys continue their work at the center when they are grown, hosting events like the North Hope Sled Dog Race, which will take place from February 16 to 24. In addition to races for teams of six or eight dogs, a skijor race, sprint run, junior race, and family fun relay are also available. The younger crowd can enjoy a kids’ charity run, opportunities to play in the snow, and children’s art exhibits.