Pumas 4 Palin

Iditarod Race – celebrating the spirit of adventure in Sarah Palin’s snow-land of mystery, ruggedness and allure.

Posted on: April 5, 2010

Alaska is a distant place, full of beauty, wilderness, awe and mystery.  The very name suggests a remote and forbidding land for many people. The vast bulk of humanity being somewhat more tropical, and only infrequently wintry at best, Sarah Palin’s home land is as far in clime from the rest of the world, as is her true character from the caricatures conjured up by the popular media.

Most Americans know little of Alaska, other than fishing, oil pipeline, frozen crab dinners and an occasional glimpse at a polar bear in a zoo – if they are fortunate enough to live in a large enough city.

The lure and allure of Alaska has generally been lost on Americans of modern times. As one of the youngest states in the union, she hasn’t had enough exposure in areas other than travel brochures.

Ask most Americans about Alaska. All you would have gotten until recently is mumbles about oil,  Eskimos and igloos. The tundra might have been on the far side of the moon, except when an oil tanker runs aground or a pipeline springs leak.

Sarah Palin changed all of that!

On one magnificent moment at Minneapolis, in 2008, with one eloquent speech Sarah Palin stunned the world, and America. And put Alaska on the map of our contemporary consciousness. After Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech, Alaska would never be the same for Americans!

Besides giving a whole new light to words like pit bull, lipstick, and hockey mom.

And, oh, don’t forget, she single handedly made ‘death panels’ as important a point of conversation as the word Nobama.

This blogger certainly owes Sarah Palin a debt of gratitude for the grace with which she continues to represent Alaska, and all things Alaska. She has been the source of inspiration for numerous celebratory posts at this blog about Alaska, the land and its physical beauty, human challenges, and spiritual power.

People of the world and of USA have a need to know more widely about both the Alaskan landscape and temperament, as well as Sarah’s true grit, than generally obtains in the US mass media, and the generally left leaning opinionators of the new media. This blogger wishes to miss no opportunity to explore this idea and expand on the mission to understand Sarah Palin, and present her to the world in true form.

How odd then that while the rest of the country is welcoming Spring, Alaskans just celebrated snow, sleet and cold.

How appropriate too, then that this post should celebrate at once, both Alaska and Sarah Palin.

Governor Palin, besides all the other reasons, we thank you just for being from Alaska. Without your commanding and charming existence, many of us would not have explored Alaska.

The Iditarod is an awesome event, over a thousand mile race that challenges man, material and beast over more than two weeks.

 

It’s offi­cially known as the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog ­Race, but it’s often referred to as the L­ast Great Race on Earth, or simply the Iditarod. It’s a competition that pits one dog driver, called a musher, and a team of dogs not only against other racers but against the (often cruel) forces of ­Mother Nature.

Named for a town in Alaska, the race ceremonially sets off from downtown Anchorage, Alaska, on the first Saturday in March. The next day, the official start of the race occurs farther north. Over the course of the next nine to 19 days, competitors cover roughly 1,131 miles (1,821 kilometers) in a race to reach the finish line in Nome, Alaska.

How the Iditarod Race Works, from How Stuff Works

{Lots of terrific,  informative posts at this site: How Sled Dogs Work; How Mushers Work,  Hazards of the Race, etc.}

 

 

Dogs of the Iditarod is great book with lots of photos of these superb canine companions and co-athletes, author Jeff Schultz.

 

Iditarod race

 

This year’s winner, Lance Mackey is a throat cancer survivor!

Also this year, a Jamaican by the name Newton Marshall, became the first black person to qualify as a musher. What a country, what a land!

 

DISCOVERY Channel TV video clips can be viewed here, dealing with the race, the life of dogs, trail conditions, mushers’ challenges etc. Great Site!

 

For more reasons to fall in love with the Alaska of Sarah Palin, check out these posts:

 

 Sarah Palin Crop Circle Image

Webcam of grizzlies at McNeil River waters.

Summer solstice in Sarah’s Alaska.

Favorite excerpts from Going Rogue.

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3 Responses to "Iditarod Race – celebrating the spirit of adventure in Sarah Palin’s snow-land of mystery, ruggedness and allure."

As a former resident of Alaska now living as an ‘outsider’ in the lower forty-eight; I miss the jaw-dropping majestic beauty of this great state. Sarah represents my former home with grace, beauty and the ‘never-say-die’ American spirit. God bless Sarah and Alaska!!

It’s got to be the most sunning landscape! Thanks to Sarah Palin, more people have a reason and an opportunity to learn about Alaska. Thanks for visiting, come again!

For the dogs, the Iditarod is a bottomless pit of suffering. Six dogs died in the 2009 Iditarod, including two dogs on Dr. Lou Packer’s team who froze to death in the brutally cold winds. What happens to the dogs during the race includes death, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, bloody diarrhea, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, broken bones, torn muscles and tendons and sprains. At least 142 dogs have died in the race.

During training runs, Iditarod dogs have been killed by moose, snowmachines, and various motor vehicles, including a semi tractor and an ATV. They have died from drowning, heart attacks and being strangled in harnesses. Dogs have also been injured while training. They have been gashed, quilled by porcupines, bitten in dog fights, and had broken bones, and torn muscles and tendons. Most dog deaths and injuries during training aren’t even reported.

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death. “Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don’t pull are dragged to death in harnesses……” wrote former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford in an article for Alaska’s Bush Blade Newspaper.

Dog beatings and whippings are common. During the 2007 Iditarod, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, “Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective…A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective.” “It is a common training device in use among dog mushers…”

Jon Saraceno wrote in his March 3, 2000 column in USA Today, “He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens.. Or dragging them to their death.”

During the race, veterinarians do not give the dogs physical exams at every checkpoint. Mushers speed through many checkpoints, so the dogs get the briefest visual checks, if that. Instead of pulling sick dogs from the race, veterinarians frequently give them massive doses of antibiotics to keep them running. The Iditarod’s chief veterinarian, Stu Nelson, is an employee of the Iditarod Trail Committee. They are the ones who sign his paycheck. So, do you expect that he’s going to say anything negative about the Iditarod?

The Iditarod, with all the evils associated with it, has become a synonym for exploitation. The race imposes torture no dog should be forced to endure.

Margery Glickman
Director
Sled Dog Action Coalition, website: helpsleddogs.org

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