Who Gets to be First Down 4th Street for the start of the Iditarod? The winner of the 2018 Junior Iditarod!
5 Things to Know About the Junior Iditarod
When: The Jr. Iditarod is held the weekend before the Iditarod. The winner of the junior event takes the honorary first position during the ceremonial start of the longer race in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday in March and leads the pack to the first checkpoint, normally 20 miles away in Eagle River. The winner this year is 17-year-old Bailey Schaeffer who was raised in Ivig, Alaska, a camp 30 miles outside of Kotzebue in a subsistence lifestyle that revolved around Alaskan sled dogs.
What: The Junior Iditarod is approximately 150 miles long with a maximum of 10 dogs for each musher and is divided up into two 75 mile runs. At the halfway point, mushers must care for their sled dogs and camp overnight for either 8 or 12 hours before returning the following day. This tends to be a “fast race” based on trail conditions with average speeds of up to 12mph compared to the much longer Iditarod’s average speed of 8mph. During the mandatory 10 hour rest period, junior Iditarod mushers are not allowed to go inside or receive any assistance in caring for themselves or the dogs. They must use cookers to prepare food for their dogs.
Who: All Junior Iditarod mushers are between the ages of 14 and 18, and frequently train their own teams of sled dogs. Most junior mushers are from Alaska but each year a percentage of mushers travel from as far away as New England, Canada, and Europe. Competing in the Junior Iditarod is a dream come true for many juniors and a number of previous competitors have gone on to compete in the longer 1,000 mile long Iditarod, including Lance Mackey, Ramey Smyth and the 2017 winner Andrew Nolan who is a rookie in this years race!
How Iditarod Helps: Approximately $15,000 in scholarship money is awarded annually to the Junior Iditarod mushers. The first three finishers receive $5,000, $2,500, and $1,500, respectively. Of primary concern to the Jr. Iditarod is animal care, sportsmanship and furthering education, as well as the promotion of active dog sports. The winners of the Sportsmanship Award, chosen by their fellow mushers, and the Humanitarian Award, chosen by the race vets, win $1,000 each. The winner also receives round-trip tickets to the Iditarod Awards Banquet in Nome with their parents. All finishers receive a trophy, a patch, and prizes donated by local businesses. Other awards are the Blue Harness, given to the best lead dog; the Rookie of the Year, given to the top musher among those competing for the first time; and the Red Lantern, given to the last finisher.
Bailey has won $12,000 in scholarships over the years and used one scholarship for Peace Corps trip to Bali which got her interested in pursuing higher education. Next year she will attend Ft Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and will major in Adventure Education. Bailey hopes to manage a dog sledding program for youth in the Arctic.
Other Prizes: Jr Iditarod BOD is very supportive and gets loads of prizes for every musher. Buckets, snowshoes, sleeping bags, snow hooks, and harnesses are common prizes for the juniors. The winner also gets a brand new sled!
BAILEY FACTS: Bailey’s previous finishes: 3rd and 4th. 1st in 2018
What she has learned
Dog Care – learning to identify injuries before they really present. Regular consistent dog care including:
- check paws and range of motion
- look for discomfort
- Nutrition including seal oil, supplements,
- Massage and hands-on TLC
- Nails, paw salve, mix own dog care products
Enjoy this article? If so, check out the other pieces on The Alaska Life about ‘The Last Great Race!’
Does the Iditarod Need to Be Fixed?
Iditarod Food Drops – 6 Things You may not have Known!
Author: Kale Casey, CEO North America
Non-stop dogwear North America
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