The All Alaska Sweepstakes, a 408 mile dog sled race, began today in Nome, Alaska. This running of the Sweepstakes celebrates a 100 year anniversary and boasts a $100,000 winner takes-all purse. The race begins in Nome and travels along a historic route to the ghost town of Candle, and back to Nome. It was last run in 1983 and won by Rick Swenson of Two Rivers, Alaska. The excitement of the historic race has brought a field of 16 Alaska mushers to the Western arctic Seward Peninsula. Many are champions from other sled dog races throughout the years, including 4 time Iditarod champion Jeff King, and defending Iditarod and Yukon Quest champion Lance Mackey. The race traverses difficult terrain, requires no mandatory rest stops, and requires check-in only, no check-out, of race check points. These unique elements in the spectrum of dog mushing will make for interesting strategies, and surely, a very competitive race.
While the winner is anyone’s best guess, I’m impressed by Lance Mackey’s small and lightly packed sled, his strong dogs, and both his and his dog’s ability to travel with short rest periods–not to mention the inertia of winning the Quest and Iditarod in the last two months. Trail conditions, weather, dogs, and musher strategies will add their influence. The record finish time was about 74 hours and you can keep up to date on musher status and other general race information through their website: allalaskasweepstakes.org