Anchorage, Alaska
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Anchorage, AK 99504

Commemorating the Iditarod: Alaska's Great Vaccination Race March 5, 2020

Anchorage, Anchorage County
Commemorating the Iditarod: Alaska's Great Vaccination Race, Anchorage, Alaska

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual Alaskan race with global acclaim. Starting on March 7 this year, it brings together brave men, women, and canines who traverse 1,000 miles of rough terrain. While an amazing physical feat in itself, the event also has a rich history. Learn more about it in this guide. 

The Original Serum Run

A 1925 diphtheria outbreak in Nome, AK, was the reason for the event that inspired the Iditarod. Diphtheria, a bacterial infection that hinders breathing, is easily preventable thanks to vaccines. At the time, however, the only serums available were located in Anchorage, which is over 1,000 miles away.

physicalThe city was inaccessible by most methods of transportation, including planes, trains, and boats. That left dog sleds as the only means to get the medicine to Nome’s residents. This was a monumental task, as the distance and poor weather conditions took serious physical tolls on both humans and canines. Temperatures along the trail regularly fell to 60 below zero. The terrain was also treacherous, and there was a constant fear that the ice would crack and the vaccines would be lost forever. 

Despite these challenges, the medication arrived at its destination in just five days. Four brave dogs perished from the frigid temperatures to complete the mission.

The Iditarod Today

While the stakes aren’t quite as high today, the Iditarod still pushes participants to their physical limits. The race was first conceived by Joe Redington, Sr., who wanted to preserve the rich tradition of dog sledding in Alaska. 

Today, people from all walks of life participate in the Iditarod. The race begins in Anchorage and ends in Nome, recreating the historic serum run. Those who participate also have to take vaccines with them to successfully deliver them to the final destination. While they travel, participants stop at villages along the way where residents provide temporary accommodations.

The race symbolizes the spirit of Alaska, showcasing that when there is an urgent need, many brave souls will rise to the occasion.


Patients First Medical Clinic in Anchorage, AK, is also dedicated to preserving the health and well-being of Alaskans. This full-service clinic provides preventive care, wellness exams, vaccinations, diagnostic testing, and many therapies and procedures. For your convenience, they also take walk-in patients. Visit them online to learn more about their commitment to the community, or call (907) 333-7425 to make an appointment. 

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