Dogs and life along the trail of the 1049-mile sled dog race across Alaska.
Justin Savidis’ dogs peer out of their kennels at the ceremonial start of the 2013 Iditarod sled dog race in downtown Anchorage Saturday, March 2, 2013. The race is a grueling 1049-miles through the Alaskan wilderness between Willow (the official start) and Nome.
The dogs of Jamaican-born Newton Marshall leap into the air and annouce they are ready to run at the ceremonial start of the Iditarod. Each musher begins the race with 16 dogs and must finish the race with at least 6 dogs on the towline.
Kristy Berington gives her dogs some love during a rest at the Rainy Pass checkpoint. There are 24 checkpoints along the route of the Iditarod, and all mushers are required to stop and sign off at each one, regardless of the time of day or night. Kristy and her twin sister Anna ran the race together using sleds they built by hand and finished less than a minute apart.
A team of dogs trots along on its way from Anchorage to Willow.
Two sled dog teams wind their way through the trees between Finger Lake and Rainy Pass. Official Iditarod rules require each musher to carry a cold weather sleeping bag, axe, snowshoes, eight booties for each dog, boiler, fuel, veterinarian notebook, cable for securing a dog team, a non-chafing harness for each dog and adequate emergency dog food. Although a GPS is allowed, cell phones or other two-way devices are illegal.
Michelle Phillips dips a bucket into frozen Puntilla lake to get water for her dogs in Rainy Pass. Both dog food and people food are prepared in drop bags by mushers before the start of the race and dropped at each checkpoint by Iditarod pilots. Each musher and team is also required to take one mandatory 24-hours rest period and two mandatory 8-hour rest periods.
Horses are released from a corral after all the mushers and their dogs have left the Rainy checkpoint.
Scott Janssen’s dropped dogs are ready to be flown back to Anchorage from Rainy Pass. Three of Janssen’s dogs fell to the ground about 3 miles outside of the checkpoint and the musher was forced to scratch from the race.
A huge tree stump is burned for warmth as villagers wait for dog teams in Takotna.
Two sled dogs are insulated by snow and jackets as they take a rest in Takotna.
Jeff King puts booties on one of his dogs.
A dog with a lolling tongue looks back to the rest of the team in Anchorage.
Native villager and long time Iditarod volunteer Arnold Hamilton puts up a sign welcoming mushers to the town of Shageluk.
Blue-eyed beauties stay warm in the sun outside of the school in Shageluk.
Dr. Julie Kittams, veterinarian, examines one of Martin Buser’s dogs at the Shageluk checkpoint. Each dog is is looked at by voluntary vet at every checkpoint and the vet may determine if the dog is sick, injured or otherwise unable to continue the race, and the musher may choose to drop the dog. Dropped dogs are attended to by vets and other volunteers at each checkpoint and eventually flown back to Anchorage by the Iditarod Air Force bush pilots. Other than Iditarod officials, the entire race is mainly run by volunteers.
A musher takes a nap with his team in Rainy Pass.
Deedee Jonrowe ingests some caffeine and sugar in Shageluk.
Martin Buser leaves the Shageluk checkpoint in the dark.
Musher Mitch Seavey catches a nap on the floor of the Elim fire station, one of the Iditarod checkpoints, before being awoken to continue on the trail.
The sun sets in Unalakleet. The leg between Kaltag and Unalakleet is approximately 85 miles and marks the major transition from the inland river area to the Bering Sea coast. Being one of the larger checkpoint towns, it is a major hub for Iditarod logistics and volunteers and has a big enough airport to accommodate large aircraft. Most of the volunteers stay in a gym in town and cook for themselves and the mushers.
A village dog chews on a skull on the shore of the Bering Sea in Unalakleet.
Village children enjoy the last rays of sun in Unalakleet.
Aily Zirkle mushes across a windless, silent snowscape in the final stretch between Safety and Nome. Aily finished the race in second place, only about 20 minutes behind race winner Mitch Seavey.
2013 Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey falls asleep standing up after winning the race in Nome. Seavy arrived about 10:40 P.M. and stayed awake to see his son, Dallas Seavy, cross the finish line almost 3 hours later. At 53 years old, Mitch became the oldest person in history to win the race. Last year, at age 25, Dallas was first to Nome to become the youngest winner.
A dropped husky waits for a ride home in Unalakleet on the shore of the Bering Sea.