What Inspired the Iditarod
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On a frigid night in January nineteen twenty five, a team of dogs and its musher awaited a twenty pound lifesaving package. As soon as it arrived at the train station in Nenana, Alaska the team of dogs set off on a risky seven hundred mile journey to deliver the antitoxin to children dying of diptheria in Nome, Alaska. That journey is the inspiration for the Iditarod where mushers trace the same route that twenty teams of dogs took nearly a century ago.

The first musher, “Wild Bill” Shannon set off with his nine malamutes in negative sixty five degrees so that even running his fifty two mile leg didn’t spare him from hypothermia. The most famous musher of the time was Leonhard Seppala who rode an epic ninety-one mile leg by taking a risky shortcut across the frozen Norton Sound, in the dark with wind chills down to negative eighty-five degrees. Togo, his lead dog struggled for traction on the slick ice making it across to land where they eventually handed off the cargo.

Then Gunnar Kaasen had to run in a blizzard so fierce he could not see his dogs. Balto, the lead dog found his way by scent until a gust toppled the sled, tossing the package into snow. Kaasen dug with bare fingers to find the package which he carried for fifty-three miles until he arrived in Nome at five-thirty AM. Balto became a superstar, was signed to a film deal, and got his own statue in New York’s Central Park. A fair deal for saving the children of Nome.

For more information…

The Sled Dogs that Stopped an Outbreak
Balto, Togo, and other huskies famously delivered life-saving serum to a remote Alaskan town in 1925—but newspapers didn’t tell the whole story...

The Sled Dog Relay That Inspired the Iditarod
Look back at the 1925 life-or-death mission that inspired the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race...

CDC Diphtheria Fact Sheet
Diphtheria is an infection caused by the bacterium Corynebacterium diphtheriae. Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the throat. It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death. CDC recommends vaccines for infants, children, teens and adults to prevent diphtheria...