Did You Know America’s Longest Running Dog Sled Race Happens in Idaho?
I've lived in Idaho my whole life and didn't realize that Idaho is home to the longest running annual dog sled race in America....yes longer than the more famous Iditarod and this year marks the 100th anniversary of the 1st race.
Humans domesticated dogs thousands of years ago and ever since the beginning, sled dogs have been used for transportation in Arctic areas, because other than walking that was the only way to get from one place to the next without freezing to death.
The first American sled dog race to feature actual racing rules was the All-Alaska Sweepstakes, which actually began in 1908, but hasn't been run continuously since it's begging.
This was followed in 1917 by Idaho's own American Dog Derby, in the little town of Ashton, Idaho. Ashton is located about 5 hours east of Boise. This was the first American sled dog race ever held outside of Alaska or the Yukon area and it’s been held annually, every winter for 100 years. It happens the third weekend in February, so it's coming up soon, if you'd like to make plans to join the big party.
The most famous sled dog race of course is the Iditarod. It’s also an annual 1000-mile competition in Alaska, but was not on annual official event until 1973. The Iditarod helped restart worldwide interest in mushing, which had died off due to the invention of the snow machines, like the snowmobile.
Since it’s resurgence, the sport has become popular again and now sled dog races are held in cold spots around the country and the world.
I would also as a personal opinion, like to add, to those who might think of dog racing as abuse....these dogs are first of all bred to be racing sled dogs...they live to do it..it's in their blood...also I've seen news stories of the Iditarod race and seen how well these dogs are taken care of. There are rules that all must follow for treatment of sled dogs. They must be rested a minimum amount of time..they must be fed and watered on a regular basis and they are vet checked at each stop along the way to make sure they are healthy. Most of these dogs are treated better than family, because they are more important than a family member...in some cases their lives may on the health and welfare of the dog team, not to mention that good well trained sled dogs are very expensive.
I even wrote a story a couple weeks ago, for those who are interested in maybe taking a dog sled trip here in Idaho. There’s an Idaho company that offers dog sled tours about 4 1/2 hours away from Boise…check out the story and details here.