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The Participants of the 2019 Iditarod

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome began Saturday and is expected to continue until around March 15. Thousands of people (and dogs) are involved in the race, some that you don't know about.  

Musher: Drives the sled. There are 52 participating this year.

Athlete: The dogs.   

Iditarod Air Force: Pilots who move veterinarians and race staff, dog food, and other supplies along the 1,000 miles of the race. They also evacuate injured and exhausted dogs.

IditaRider: A person who gets to ride on an Iditarod sled for a portion of the race. Slots are auctioned to raise funds for the race.

Trail Team: Trail Comms do communications from the wilderness for up to two weeks, and must be experienced with both computers and heavy manual labor. Veterinarians, veterinary assistants, and dog handlers are stationed on the trail as well. Trail Guards protect racers from traffic, keep pedestrians off the trail, and help to re-groom snow when needed.

Other volunteers work continuously coordinating, cooking, loading and unloading, reporting, set up and tear down, parking, security, answering phones, and running errands for two weeks during the Iditarod and in planning and preparing year-round.  

Jeff Schultz, the official Iditarod photographer, has a gallery of some of the people and dogs of the Iditarod called Faces of the Iditarod. Each portrait tells about the subject, their role in the race, and contains audio clips. You can see the mushers in a gallery here.

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The Iditerod is akin to dog fighting. I urge everyone who cares about the humane treatment of sled dogs to advocate for stricter laws protecting sled dogs- their breeding, their training, and their racing. At least one dog dies in every race. They usually die of bodily injuries related to over-exertion. And this doesn't count the thousands of dogs who have died training. The Iditerod is currently a very cruel industry. It is not the partnership between dogs and racers that is is painted to be!
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