The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race traverses 1,000 miles of the wilds of Alaska — and, in the popular imagination, encompasses a lot of what makes Alaska, Alaska. There’s a lot of hype to the race. Much of it is justified.
Through my work at KNOM, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to see and cover 11 runnings of the Iditarod, which departs from Anchorage and ends just a few blocks from KNOM Studios in Nome.
As KNOM broadened its online presence in the early 2010s, there came the opportunity to cover the Iditarod not only on-air but also online — which meant a need for photography of Iditarod mushers and their dogs.
I feel honored and so lucky to have been able to contribute to this effort and to help capture snapshots of an incredible race.
There’s a festival mood, an almost carnival-like atmosphere in Nome when the mushers come to town — not least since the city’s population (normally about 3,500 people) swells considerably with tourists, Iditarod fans, race staff and volunteers, and out-of-town media.
Despite the added attention and excitement, the arrival of an Iditarod musher tends to be very casual: after 1,000 miles of racing, the musher and her team run the final quarter-mile down Nome’s main thoroughfare, Front Street, at a moderate 6 or 8 miles per hour. There aren’t fireworks at the end of their herculean journeys: just warm cheers in the frigid air and firm hugs from loved ones and friends at the finish line. It’s always a delightful sight to see.
Every year, it’s been a fun race to shoot — but one year’s Iditarod stands out.
In 2014, I had the amazing opportunity to accompany KNOM’s reporter on the Iditarod Trail as a photographer and on-site blogger.
It’s an experience I’ll never forget — not least since one of the nights of the 8-day journey involved sleeping out under the stars, under the branches of a pine tree, at the remote checkpoint of Rohn. But that’s a story for another blog post.
All photos are copyright KNOM Radio Mission. (With the exception of the Kristy Berington image above, all images were taken with a Canon 5D Mark III.)