Search form

About The Blogger

Gail S Hennessey's picture
Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
Back to Blog

The Iditarod is Coming! (The Last Great Race on Earth): Fun Facts for Kids

The Iditarod, held in the state of Alaska, begins this coming weekend! (March 4th)

Fun Facts to Share with Students!

  1. Danish explorer Vitus Bering was the first European to discover Alaska. The year was 1741.
  2. A lamp is lit at the beginning of the Iditarod race and isn’t extinguished until the very last dog team finishes the race.
  3. The last team to reach the finish line is given the Red Lantern Award.
  4. Susan Butcher, the only woman to win 4 out of 5 sequential year races, is honored with Susan Butcher Day!
  5. The holder of the current record for the fastest Iditarod is Dallas Seavey. In 2016, he completed the race in eight days, 11 hours, 20 minutes, and 16 seconds.
  6. Sometimes called “The Last Great Race on Earth,” the Iditarod will celebrate its 45th year anniversary in 2017.
  7. Due to lack of snow, the 2017 Iditarod will use a route from Fairbanks to Nome.
  8. Begun in 1973, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is called the world’s longest dog sled race. It uses the old mail route (Iditarod Trail) from Anchorage to Nome.  
  9. Officially, the Iditarod is 1,049 miles. The word “Iditarod” comes from the Athabaskan language and means “distance” or “distance place.”
  10. Although other breeds of dogs have run the dog race, including a poodle in 1999, a rule was created limiting the breeds to northern breed dogs such as Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes.
  11. The “Serum Run” or the Great Race of Mercy took place in 1925. Supplies were needed in the city of Nome and sled dogs were the only way to bring the medicines to the area.
  12. With airplanes and snowmobiles, sled dog use began to disappear. The Iditarod was begun in attempt to bring back this important culture and contributions of sled dogs in the history of the state of Alaska.

Additional Resources

My Iditarod webquest has 10 web questions, A Did You Know? Section, and a teacher page with nine extension activities, additional links, and an answer key. 

Also, check out my webquest on the state of Alaska.



Illustrations from