It’s called the Super Bowl of dog sled racing. The Iditarod Race will be held the first Saturday in March. The race covers 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska has been called “The Last Great Race on Earth”.
Monday night, Karen Land brought her dog Borage to the Henry F. Schricker Public Library in Knox. The presentation described Karen’s Iditarod racing, with Borage wandering through the crowd making friends of young and old alike.
In high school, Karen said she was just an ordinary teenager. She graduated from Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis, attended the Herron Institute of Art and a documentary writing school in Maine. It was in Maine where she wrote a documentary about dog racing and was hooked on the sport.
Traveling to Montana, where she now has a home, Karen signed on to help one of the famous Iditarod mushers train his dogs. Eventually, she outfitted a 16-dog team and entered the race herself. Even though she finished 49th out of 60, she made the entire 1,050 mile trek and she was very proud of herself.
During the race, her team went into a hole filled with water and she had to jump in to free them. Not knowing what to do, she allowed the dogs to treat her as a ladder and climb out of the freezing water.
Karen takes her story to hundreds of audiences a year, raising money for gear, training and food for future races.
During the races, Karen sleeps outside with the dogs who help keep her warm. She said she tried sleeping in race shelters but described the sound of dozens of men snoring as beyond impossible to endure.
Lead dogs steer the sled and set the pace for the other members of the team. There are usually two lead dogs, although some teams still use a single dog.
The race began after a number of sled teams stationed along the route transported serum for diphtheria patients in Nome in 1925. It was the only way to get the medicine through from Anchorage during the winter. Balto, the Wonder Dog, lead the team during the final stretch before arriving in Nome in a blinding snowstorm. A statue of Balto was erected in New York’s Central Park and is the most visited monument in the park.