On March 3, scores of mushers and their dog teams will kick off the 39th Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska. The mushers come from all walks of life – farmers, veterinarians, lawyers, biologists, etc. The race is not for the faint of heart, covering 1,049 miles of inhospitable terrain in often hazardous weather conditions. Portions of the race course follow centuries-old Native American trails, which were later used by fur traders and speculators in the Alaska gold rush in the 19th century. Dog sleds were originally used on the trails out of necessity, to deliver supplies between settlements and trading posts as Alaskan seaports became icebound in winter.
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