The Historic Race
In 1907, after several discussions, Nome’s inhabitants found a dog club. By gathering their energies, their aim is to set up a real sled dog race.
That race will come into existence in 1908 and will be named «All Alsaska Sweepstakes». It will be run each year on a 660 kilometers distance. In the beginning, teams are really slow because they are constituted of various types of dogs (including Saint Bernard dogs…). Then Siberian husky teams appear progressively, they are faster and have more endurance.
Léonhard Seppala, one of the heroes of the Nome rescuing, will be a 3 times winner on this race. The Alaska Sweepstakes would take place each year from 1909 until 1917. The next editions won’t appear before 1983. Rick Swenson, 5 times winner of the Iditarod, will be the new race winner at this occasion. The last edition took place in 2008 and saw the victory of Mitch Seavey, also winner of the Iditarod.
That race is special for its forbidding of dropping a dog. In most long distance races, a musher can decide to withdraw a dog from its team if he’s wounded or too tired. He then leaves the dog to the good care of his handler. During the All Alsaka Sweepstakes, this is forbidden. Hence, the musher must take particularly good care of each of his dogs and maintain their will to pass the arrival line.
If you wish to discover other mythical races, check out the « Sport » chapter.