Iditarod: Racing Across Alaska

Dogs pull a sled during the ceremonial start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo by Frank Kovalchek via Wikimedia Commons)

On this date in 1985, Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail sled dog race.

Here are some things you might not have known about the annual tradition.

The Iditarod is run in honor of the 1925 serum run, which was a sled dog relay to deliver a diphtheria antitoxin to the town of Nome during an outbreak. 20 mushers combined to haul 20 pounds of serum 674 miles in about five and a half days. A particularly treacherous leg of the route was run by Norwegian Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog Togo. The final leg was run by Norwegian Gunnar Kaasen and his lead dog Balto. Later that year a statue of Balto was placed in New York’s Central Park, where it remains a popular tourist attraction.

It took Dick Wilmarth 20 days, 49 minutes and 41 seconds to win the first modern Iditarod race in 1973. In 2017, the race was won by Mitch Seavey in a record 8 days, 3 hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds. Seavey also broke his own record as the oldest person to win the race at 57 years old. His son Dallas Seavey was the youngest to win at age 25 in 2012. He’s since won the race three more times.

The winningest musher is Rick Swenson, who has five victories. Susan Butcher, Martin Buser, Jeff King, Doug Swingley, and Lance Mackey  join Dallas Seavey in the four-time winners’ club.

Our question: What’s the name of the peninsula on which Nome is located?


Today is the first day of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, International Day of Happiness, World Sparrow Day, and Independence Day in Tunisia

It’s unofficially French Language Day, International Astrology Day, and National Ravioli Day.

It’s the birthday of playwright Henrik Ibsen, who as born in 1828; comedian Carl Reiner, who is 95; and children’s TV pioneer Fred Rogers, who was born in 1928.

Because we’ve recently featured 1985, we’ll spin the wheel to pick a year at random.

This week in 1977, the top song in the U.S. was “Rich Girl” by Hall and Oates.

The No. 1 movie was “Airport ’77,” while the novel “Trinity” by Leon Uris topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


Weekly question: How much per acre did the United States pay for Alaska in 1867?

Submit your answer at and we’ll add the name of the person with the first correct answer to our winner’s wall … at We’ll have the correct answer on Friday’s episode.



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