Nothing captures the spirit and mystique of Alaska like the Iditarod Sled Dog Race the last great race on Earth.
The event, now in its 33rd year, is all part of the lure, lore and legend of the last frontier.
The race, like Alaska itself, is about wide open spaces, challenges and freedom. While it may mean miles of solitary mushing, the race, nevertheless, epitomizes teamwork. For many, it's become a symbol of turning dreams into reality by tackling what seems like a nearly impossible journey.
Among the field of 79 contenders who hit the trail today are seven Kenai Peninsula mushers: Mitch Seavey, who won last year's race, and his sons, Dallas and Tyrell; Paul Gebhardt, who finished second in the race of 2000; Lance Mackey, who has run three Iditarods; Tim Osmar, who has run 19 Iditarods and finished third in 1992; and Judy Merritt, who has started the race twice but not yet finished.
The peninsula mushers have established reputations as tough competitors, good sports and lovers of mushing, which challenges body, mind and spirit. They may not all finish in the top 10, but they will all run a good race no matter the time it takes to finish.
The Iditarod is always fun to follow, but the peninsula mushers make it even more exciting for peninsula residents, who will be cheering the hometown teams on throughout the 1,100-mile race.
Good luck. The entire peninsula is pulling for you. Happy (and safe) trails.
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