If You Were a Kid at the Iditarod by Josh Gregory

if you were a kid at the iditarod by

Josh Gregory illustrated by Kelly

Kennedy if you were a kid at the

Iditarod each year on early March Alaska

holds its biggest most thrilling

sporting event the Iditarod Trail Sled

Dog Race dozens of the world's top

mushers gather in Alaska's biggest sea


they bring their teams of specially

trained sled dogs soon they will set off

on an epic race across the state's

rugged wilderness riding on sleds behind

their hard-working dogs they will cross

more than nine hundred miles of rough

terrain the weather will be cold and

snowy their journey will take more than

eight days or even the fastest teams

imagine you were a kid in Alaska during

the Iditarod you would get an up-close

look at this one-of-a-kind event we're

gonna turn the page to set off on an

amazing adventure through the Alaskan

wilderness you'll find out what it takes

to make it to the end of the idea to

ride trail this is a musher this is the


it's got supplies for the pack of dogs

who all wear dog booties and little

doggie coats a full Iditarod Racing team

consists of a musher and about 16 dogs

the dogs pulled musher on a sled packed

with gear and supplies meet Maggie

Maggie Williams Lewis with her family in

a small Alaskan town mushing is a big

part of their lives Maggie's dad used to

race in the Iditarod every year now the

family runs a business that takes people

on sled dog tours and gives mushing

lessons this year they're getting back

into the big race Maggie's older sister

Laura has been training for several

years now Laura is going to compete in

the Iditarod for the first time meet

Alex Alex is Maggie's cousin he lives in

Florida in his visiting Alaska to see

the race his cousins with him in Florida

almost every year but this is his first

time in Alaska he has never seen snow

before alex is a little worried that the

weather will be too cold for him

still hanging out with Maggie will be

fun so will cheering on Laura in the

race I'll extend his bags down in the

guest room he was excited to be in the

last guy but he couldn't stop shivering

come on Maggie said I'll give you a tour

you can even meet the dogs I don't know

if I'm ready to go back outside

Alex replied I'm freezing just from

walking between the car in the house now

you rolled her eyes and handed him a

heavy coat then she grabbed his hand and

let him out the door so just to give you

a brief history of mushing people have

used sled dogs to get around in snowy

areas for thousands of years this way of

traveling has a rich history in Alaska

it was once the only way to get too many

parts of the state this was before

airplanes or snowmobiles in the 20th

century Alaskans began holding dogsled

races as a way to honor their past this

tradition has continued the Iditarod and

other races are held around the state

every year and the first I did ride

Trail Sled Dog Race was held in 1973

Maggie took Alex to the dog kennels she

led him from one dog to the next she

stopped near a dog with black fur and

blue eyes this is shadow said she said

petting the dog he's my favorite I've

helped raise him since he was a puppy

he's still young but he's very fast she

walked over to another dog with red and

white fur this is max she said he's the

lead dog of Laura's team Alex laughed as

Shadow licked his face I can't wait to

see them run he said so meeting the team

and I did her odd team usually has 16

dogs some have special roles to play one

or two lead dogs run at the front of the

group they have to be able to react

quickly to obstacles behind the lead

dogs are swing dogs they help the team

turn left or right the dogs right in

front of the sled dogs are called the

wheel dogs

they help steer the sled itself all the

other dogs are simply called teen dogs

they add speed and power to the team

only northern breed dogs are allowed to

race in Iditarod these dogs have warm

thick fur the most common types are

Alaskan Huskies and Siberian Huskies the

whole family went to Anchorage on

Saturday morning the race is ceremonial

start was this day it wasn't the real

race it was a day people could get a

close look at the teams the real race

would start the next day crowds of

excited spectators line of city streets

Alex shivered as he pointed toward the

starting line

there was Laura he said the mushers and

their dogs look so cool one by one the

mushers started racing down the street

it took off a couple of minutes apart as

Laura passed by she high-fived Alex and

Maggie from her sled from Anchorage to

Nome each year the Iditarod kicks off in

Anchorage huge crowds gathered to watch

the mushers race for 11 miles this part

of the race does not count toward a

team's final time instead the race is

restarted the next day the restart takes

place in either Willow

or Fairbanks depending upon the weather

teams been follow a series of more than

20 checkpoints from the restart location

to the finish line and Nome my Diderot

team can start with up to 16 dogs at

least five of the dogs must remain when

the team crosses the finish line

the next afternoon everyone gathered in

the tiny town of Willow it was time for

the real start of the race the wind was

strong the snow was falling fast

they've formed big piles of snow drifts

he said always this snowy I'll exhaust

he pulled his hood over his head

actually no Maggie replied this is

pretty crazy weather it's almost a


I hope the dogs will be up to the

challenge her dad added watching the

weather Alaska weather can be extreme

average temperatures along the trail

range from about negative 11 degrees

Fahrenheit to 24 degrees Fahrenheit it

can sometimes get even colder than that

during almost every dinner otic

temperatures have dropped to as low as

negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit at some

point there is also plenty of snow an

average of 9 to 21 inches of snow

covered the trail most years the highest

snow depth was 45 inches in 2009 most

years snowfalls during the race mushers

can expect about 2 to 4 inches of new

snow Maggie and Alex were glued to the

computer for the next few days they

followed the latest race news closely

they cheered each time Laura reached a

checkpoint Maggie's dad was paying close

attention to the race too one morning he

had an idea let's fly out to the next

checkpoint in my plane he said we could

see Laura she passes through Alice could

hardly believe his ears you have an

airplane he asked excitedly following

the action watching the Iditarod isn't

like watching other sports you can't go

to a stadium to see the race

you can't watch most of it on TV either

most fans keep up with the action online

the sleds have GPS devices on them these

keep track of the mushers positions live

video streams are available at certain

points on the trail the biggest fans try

to catch the action in person they

travel to Anchorage no or even the

remote checkpoints fans can ride on a

mushers sled during the ceremonial start

but it isn't free some pay thousands of

dollars to do this


Alex said has he climbed out of small

plane this is really the middle of

nowhere yep I agree the trail goes

through some really remote areas

Maggie's dad led them to a spot where

they could see the action they watched

us several mushers passed by finally

Maggie pointed off in the distance there

she is shield but a worried look soon

came on her face why is max running like


she asked something is wrong racing

strategies it takes more than fast dogs

to an Iditarod each musher has a

strategy the biggest decisions include

when to take breaks to eat deciding how

long to sleep or rest is also important

another strategy is carrying a few dogs

at a time on the sled the musher can

switch which dogs ride in the sled this

lets them rest without stopping in this

picture a musher prepares a meal for his

dogs during the 2013 Iditarod

a veterinarian had the checkpoint took a

close look at max Maggie and Alex

watched from a distance I don't think

max is going to be finishing the race

Maggie said her dad nodded I think

you're right he'll be coming home with

us when we leave but what will Laura do

without the lead dog Alex asked one of

the other dogs we'll have to take over

Maggie answered keeping dogs healthy the

Iditarod is difficult for even the

strongest healthiest dogs some dogs get

injured during the race just like human

athletes might they also get tired

there are veterinarians at each

checkpoint they inspect the dogs to make

sure they are in good shape sometimes a

dog can't continue the race then it's

musher leaves it behind at the

checkpoint the dog is cared for and

flown to either Anchorage or known then

it can rejoin his team after the race

more than 1,000 dogs compete in the race

each year Maggie and Alex watched as

Laura set off on the icy trail I'll

explain Tadao that a black dog was

leading the team its shadow

Maggie yelled he's an interesting choice

for the lead position said her dad he

doesn't have Max's experience that's


meg replied but I know he can do it

rules of the race mushers must follow a

number of rules over the course of the

race they must take regular rest breaks

they also must take three long breaks

one lasts 24 hours it can be taken at

any checkpoint the other two are eight

hours each they happen at certain points

on the trail mushers might also stop to

sleep outdoors for a couple of hours at

a time at other points along the trail

but they try to stay awake as much as

possible mushers must keep their sled

stocked with certain supplies at all


these include food and ax snowshoes and

a sleeping bag they also need to have

plenty of dog food and they must carry

two sets of booties for each dog's feet

by packing lightweight supplies mushers

make it easier for their dogs to pull

the sled

a few days later the whole family went

to know they wanted to see the mushers

across the finish line a little more

than eight days had passed suddenly a

siren blasted through the town

Alex jumped in surprised what's that

he'll don't worry Maggie said with a

laugh that happens whenever a team is

close to finishing they watched as

several teams came rushing into town

that afternoon it was starting to get

dark there was still no sign of Laura a

prize for the slowest team even the

fastest teams take more than eight days

to complete the Iditarod for others the

journey can take much longer the last

team to cross the finish line wins a

special award it's called the Red

Lantern the longest time ever recorded

was at the first I did rod in 1973 the

Red Lantern winner took more than 32

days to finish in 2017 72 teams entered

the race only 64 of them finished

successfully finally the sign rang again

Maggie and Alex started cheering when

they recognized Laura shadow was at the

front of the team he was running as fast

as the wind the family rushed to greet

Laura she crossed the finish line you

did it Maggie shouted as she hugged her

sister Laura looked tired but excited

I'm a long way from first place Laura

replied but I'll be back here next year

to try again I can't wait to see it said

Alex this was so much fun that I stopped

noticing how cold it is

masters of mushroom some mushers have

achieved amazing things on the Iditarod

Trail Lance Mackey set a record he won

the race four times in a row from 2007

to 2010 Rick Swenson has won the race

five times that is more than any other

musher Susan butcher won the race four

times she won in 1986 1987 1988 and 1990

Dallas Seavey was 25 years old when he

won in 2012 he became the youngest

winner in race history he has won three

more times since then Dallas's father

Mitch Seavey was 57 when he won

17 he became a oldest winner in race

history Dallas Seavey celebrates with

his dogs after winning the 2015 I did

her on the Iditarod Trail Anchorage know

there are two main routes along the

Iditarod Trail each has a number of

checkpoints and they're labeled in this

picture and the teams must pass through

along the way the race switches between

them each year if you want to know more

about the timeline I think I do I want

to know more about the timeline please

check out the book and there's other

words that you can learn and an index to

reference all the words you learn the