When I was a boy and a member of the Boy Scouts of America we participated in annual Klondike Derby. It was the closest to the Iditarod any of us would get—minus the dogs. In fact, we were the dogs pulling a sledge to various outdoor skill stations like compass orienteering, knot tying, winter survival, etc. The reason I bring this up is that the official start of the Iditarod is today at 10:00 a.m. in Anchorage, Alaska. Go to the official Iditarod race website
and check out the interactive maps and videos. Cabelas
, a sponsor of the race, also has a website covering the race. This year there are 83 entries in the 1,049-mile trek. The exact distance varies each year, due to variations caused by seasonal conditions, but the official distance is 1,049 miles in honor of Alaska the 49th state. Distances from checkpoints vary from 18 miles to 93 miles. My Klondike Derby memories are cold and wet, and our route was only a mile or so traveled over a weekend. We dogs fell into our sleeping bags exhausted. I still remember the lessons we learned at those checks stations and if my GPS ever dies in the middle of nowhere I can use an old school liquid-filled, magnetic compass
. Whether I could run in the real Iditarod with my Klondike Derby training? Not unless a pointer becomes a sledder. And not unless La-Z-Boy makes a sled. Man’s best friend no matter what man’s interest is.