The race has started in downtown Anchorage since 1983. The teams leave the start line at the corner of 4th and “D” at two minute intervals, starting at 10 a.m.

There are an average of 65 teams starting the race each year.

The mushers follow multi-use trails through Anchorage to Campbell Airstrip, an 11 mile run.

An IditaRider auction is held each year whereby fans can bid to be a rider in a musher’s sled from the start line for the first 11 miles. This auction opens on December 1 and closes at a specific time and date in January each year. The money raised is used to offset expenses of the race and to provide each musher who finishes the race after the top 20 (who receive cash prize winnings), with $1,049. This helps the mushers get their teams home.

The Saturday start is a ceremonial start and does not count in the overall time in the race to Nome.

On the following day, Sunday, mushers will again line up for the ReStart in Willow. At 2:00 PM, the first teams will depart on their way to Nome, leaving in 2 minute intervals until all of the teams have left. The clock starts for the mushers as they leave the starting line. The difference in starting times is ‘made up’ on a musher’s 24 hour mandatory layover.

It is impossible to predict the exact day or time that the first musher will cross the finish line in Nome. However, we expect it to be between 9 and 12 days, arriving the second Tuesday or Wednesday after the race restart. Doug Swingley, 1995 Champion, completed the course in 9 days, 2 hours, 42 minutes and 19 seconds to become the first musher from outside of the state of Alaska to ever win the Iditarod. Since that time, records have been broken and the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race® has continued to celebrate the importance of the dogs of the Iditarod.

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This is Dr. Morgan’s third year as one of the veterinarians for the canine athletes!

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The Dogs Are Priority #1! – Animal Welfare Facts

The Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) takes great pride in its role of providing excellence in dog care, not only during the race, but through an extensive program of pre-race vet­erinary screen­ing. The result of these efforts is a level of screening and health care that an overwhelming majority of the human population will never experience! Consider the following:

  • Within 30 days of the race start, each dog receives an ECG evaluation to check for heart abnormalities. In conjunction with this, pre-race blood tests (CBC’s / Chemistry Panels) are performed. All dogs must have a microchip implant at this time.
  • A complete pre-race physical examination is performed on each dog by a licensed veterinarian within 14 days of the race start. Vaccinations must be current.
  • All dogs are required to be dewormed within 10 days of the race start, using medication provided through the ITC.
  • Before entering the Iditarod, a musher must complete approved qualifying races. Generally, it takes a minimum of two years to prepare for the experience as it simply is not possible for someone to participate in the Iditarod without having made a substantial investment of time and effort in coming to understand the intricacies of how to properly manage and care for their dogs. In other words, mushers possess real life experience in providing the proper care (nutrition, hydration, rest, etc.) for their teams.
  • In addition to the high standard of care provided by the mushers themselves, more than forty licensed veterinarians volunteer their time on the trail to perform routine evaluations and administer any necessary treatments. During the race, well over 10,000 routine checkpoint veterinary examinations take place.
  • Dog Team Diaries, also referred to as “Vet Books,” are carried by each musher. Mushers present them to a veterinarian at each checkpoint, with the purpose of serving as a written medical record for every dog in the race. They are important communication tools.
  • A dog may be “dropped” from the race for a variety of reasons. Dropped dogs are monitored continuously by the veterinary staff, including routine re-evaluations after their return to Anchorage. Any dog needing follow up veterinary care (very few of those that are dropped from teams do) is transported to an appropriate facility before being released from the ITC veterinary staff. View the DROPPED DOG MANUAL.
  • All mushers competing in the Iditarod are members of P.R.I.D.E., which stands for “Providing Respon­sible Information on a Dog’s Environment.” Membership in this organization is not limited to mushers, as veterinarians and other interested individuals can also join. Those familiar with sled dogs will appreciate the guidelines established by P.R.I.D.E. as being sound advice for the care of this special breed of dog.
  • The International Sled Dog Veterinary Medi­cal Association (I.S.D.V.M.A.) publishes The Musher and Vet­erinary Hand­book, a highly regarded resource that provides important information for mushers and veterinarians. As an organization consisting primarily of medical professionals with an interest in and/or experience in working with sled dogs, the I.S.D.V.M.A. actively promotes and encourages their welfare and safety. Many members of the organization have served as trail veterinarians during the Iditarod itself.
  • The I.S.D.V.M.A. also supports and encourages scientific research to further a better understanding of the racing sled dog.
  • As in other high profile athletic events, random drug testing is conducted. Urine samples are collected at the start, finish and throughout the race.
  • Race policies and rules are written with the greatest empha­sis on the proper care and treat­ment of the dogs. Any musher found guilty of in­humane treat­ment would be disqualified and banned from competition in future Iditarods.