2012 Iditarod sports card of musher DeeDee Jonrowe and one of her sled dogs sponsored by the Shell Oil Company. DeeDee Jonrowe moved to Alaska in her teens and began competing in sled dog races in 1978. She ran her first Iditarod in 1980 and consistently finishes in the top 10 or 20 and winning both the Copper Basin 300 and Klondike 300 races. She is most proud of the awards she has won for dog care including the Leonhard Seppala Humanitarian award given by the veterinarians of the Iditarod for the musher who has provided the best care and treatment to their dogs. She is the founder of M.U.S.H. with Pride, an organization that assists with training of kennel owners on the fair treatment of dogs. Her public battle with breast cancer in 2002 has cast Jonrowe as the inspirational role model for many and in 2003 she became an honorary chairperson for the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. Jonrowe lost her home and kennel in 2015 during the Sockey Wildfire but managed to save all of her dogs and is currently rebuilding.
The Iditarod Sled Dog Race is an extreme sports challenge that tests the skill and endurance of competitors while celebrating Alaska’s sled dog culture and history. Teams of 12 to 16 dogs, primarily Alaskan Huskies, and their musher experience harsh terrain and weather conditions during the 1,150 mile run from Anchorage to Nome. In its modern iteration as an extreme sport, the Iditarod takes an intense physical toll not only on the human competitors but also on the sled dogs. The race follows a large network of Native trade and travel routes which travelers used when gold was discovered in the isolated town of Iditarod. This discovery led to a “rush” of miners and settlers from across the country, transforming the trail into the region’s main mail and supply route. The area’s harsh winter conditions made sled dog teams the main source of transportation along the Iditarod Trail and it is this rich history which the Iditarod race celebrates today. In 1978 Congress designated the 2300 mile Iditarod Trail as a National Historic Trail recognizing its importance in the shaping of America. Through its beginnings as a regional story, the Iditarod provides us the opportunity to explore the American Experience through the origins of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and the transformation of the Alaskan sled dog culture into an international sport. The Iditarod is now the largest and most prominent sled dog race in the world, attracting international competitors and world-wide media attention.
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