The Iditarod is a run that has been run for decades now through some of the harshest conditions in Alaska to commemorate the serum run of 1925. It is well over 1,000 miles and is run the first week of March. Remembering the terrible diphtheria outbreak almost 100 years ago, this race goes from Anchorage to Nome to celebrate a time when dog sledding was sometimes the only option for transportation.
It is an incredible strength of will, endurance, courage, stamina and perseverance. Mushers get sick, injured and lost along the trail. Their dogs can have the same fates.
It is truly an incredible event and I was finally able to be a part of it.
No – I wasn’t mushing, but if you have ever wanted to see the Iditarod consider becoming a volunteer. This gives you inside access to everything, discounts for lodging and food, and a great opportunity to be part of something incredible.
There are positions for all kinds of work, from pilots to vets, from cashiering to data entry, the possibilities are literally endless. Any kind of skill you have is probably needed.
My first position I volunteered for was to be a dog handler. This allowed me to be inside the security check points, meet mushers and their teams, and help with my favorite thing in the world: dogs.
I also picked to be a volunteer for the dog drop, which is when dogs become too sick or injured to finish the race. This is not because they are run into the ground from cruelly running thousands of miles. The dogs are absolutely taken care of better than my own dogs – they get checked by a vet at every checkpoint. But a dog could break a toe nail, go into heat or get kennel cough. They also could just be overheated or too tired to continue at the point the musher decides to leave, so in their best interest the dogs are left behind to be taken care of by volunteers.
Lastly, I did race stats, which is data entry. This is absolutely the most fascinating position as you can see real time updates of where the mushers are exactly. As checkpoints email you the musher’s positions, you enter them into the official database and update the web standings.
The Iditarod is coming to a close for this year, but if you’re interested in volunteering you should check out www.iditarod.com.