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Alaskan Dog-Sled Races

Moon Alaska, 1st edition

IT’S COLD AND dark in Alaska in winter, but the state comes out of its hibernation for two 1,600-kilometre dog-sled races.

The first, in early February, is the Yukon Quest (www.yukonquest.com) a two-nation course between Fairbanks, Alaska and Whitehorse, Yukon. “Mushers cross four mountain summits along the way and are required to take a 36-hour layover in Dawson City,” says the 1st edition of Moon Alaska. The race starts in Fairbanks in even-numbered years and in Whitehorse in odd-numbered ones.

The Iditarod (www.iditarod.com) comes a month later, in early March. On Saturday, the day before the real race begins in nearby Willow, “there’s a carnival-like start in Anchorage,” says the guidebook, as “teams run 11 miles through town on a mix of city streets, multiuse trails, and dedicated mushing tracks.” One of the best places to station yourself is where the route doglegs sharply from 4th Avenue onto Cordova Street, which “makes for dramatic wipeouts…Bring a folding chair…and get there early.”

The race finishes in Nome (“Nome’s biggest moment”), with the frontrunners arriving usually eight or nine days after the start. “Nome has an average high temp of 19 degrees [Fahrenheit] in March, so spending all day outside waiting on the mushers isn’t realistic.” The city blows a horn when the lead teams are near, but the guidebook suggests you “stake out a comfortable indoor viewing area in the Nome Nugget Inn’s saloon, which has the closest indoor viewing area.”

Also: “More than 1,000 people pour into Nome to see the finish, so make your travel reservations as early as possible.”

 

www.moon.com

 

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