The Iditerod Sled Dog Race is on; with mushers and their sled dogs competing in this grueling race which commemorates a 1925 rescue mission that carried diptheria serum by sled dog relay to the coastal community of Nome. It has been an official race since 1978, and draws mushers and their teams from all over the world to test themselves and the stamina of their dogs.
Competing for the second time this year is a plucky little fifty pound blind dog named Laura. Her owner and handler, Kelly Maixner, a pediatric dentist, says that rather than being a liability she is a cheerleader for the rest of the team and
is comfortable running in any position except the lead. The sweet-faced dog is a victim of an eye disease called pannus for which there is no cure. It is a family affair this year as her family is running with her; her father Shane, and siblings Big Mike and Flo are part of the team.
The 1,049 mile race beginning in Anchorage and which varies according to which route they take, generally takes 9-15 days as teams race through blizzards and whiteouts over trails running into the sparsely populated interior of native villages and along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome. As it takes the teams through harsh landscapes and over hills and mountain passes, the Iditerod symbolizes a link to early history.
In Alaska “Mush” means more than hot oatmeal, it’s a rallying cry to “Get Going!”