Iditarod 2013: Craziest Facts About World's Premier Sled Dog Race

Ben ChodosCorrespondent IIMarch 2, 2013

16 Mar 1999: A general view of team of dogs running through the rainy pass during the Iditarod Trail Race in Alaska. Mandatory Credit: Ezra O. Shaw  /Allsport
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Iditarod is without question one of the most insane events in all of sports.

Every winter in Alaska—words that make normal human beings shiver—brave souls compete in a sled dog race that starts in Anchorage and ends in Nome.

The race has been run since 1973 and alternates each year between a Northern and a Southern Course. This year's race starts on March 2 and will take he southern route; racers will have to travel 987 miles.  

It generally takes contestants between nine and 15 days to complete the race. Those are the basics, now here are the craziest facts about this sporting spectacle.


The Cost Often Outweighs the Reward

While this may seem obvious due to the extreme nature of the race, but the contestants are not really competing for money. 

According to the Alaska Daily News, the winner will take home $50,400. But notes that the average cost of the race is “between $20,000 and $30,000 though some racers have been known to spend upwards of $100,000.” 

For the racers, history, tradition and family are often the main motivation for competing.

You could not pay me enough to take part in this race.


There Has Been a Photo Finish

After two weeks of racing through the snow, whiteout conditions, a full 24-hour break and nearly 1,000 miles of rugged Alaska terrain, one would think that there would be some distance between the contestants.

That is generally the case, but it wasn’t in 1978.

According to, the closest finish in the race’s history came that year when Dick Mackey crossed the finish line one second ahead of Rick Swenson, denying him his second consecutive victory. 

Don’t feel too bad for Swenson, though, as he went on to win the race four more times to become the only five-time winner in the event’s history.


An 84-Year-Old Completed the Race

No, that is not a typo.

At 84 years old, Norman Vaughan completed the Iditarod for the sixth time, according to the Iditarod Trail Committee Facebook.

Vaughan may have finished 60th out of 61 contestants, but he also spent weeks in the freezing cold instead of moving to Florida.

This is a remarkable accomplishment for a person his age, and it is one of the craziest facts about a truly insane event.