Today is the beginning of one of the toughest (and most egalitarian) races in the world.
The Iditarod covers 1,160 snow-covered miles. The race commemorates the heroism of sled dog mushers who, against the odds, delivered serum from Anchorage to Nome during a diphtheria epidemic. In 1927 before a vaccine was developed, this was a serious disease, killing up to 15,000 people a year. Mortality was highest among children. In January of that year children in the Nome area began dying of the disease. The crucial diphtheria antitoxin couldn’t be sent by ship due to heavy ice. Blizzards halted attempts to send it by plane. In a last ditch effort, it was put on a train but even that stopped nearly 700 miles from Nome.