A dog sled team competes in the World Championship Dog Derby in The Pas, Manitoba, Canada. Dog sled teams like this one delivered life-saving diphtheria medicine to Nome, Alaska, in 1925.
Photograph by W.E. Garrett, National Geographic

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    On February 2, 1925, a dog sled team delivered medicine to the town of Nome, Alaska. The team delivered a crucial supply of diphtheria antitoxin, preventing an epidemic of the deadly disease in the isolated Arctic town.
    The first leg of the relay, involving 20 mushers and more than 100 sled dogs, had begun five days earlier in Nenana, Alaska, about 1,046 kilometers (650 miles) east of Nome. The mushers raced across frozen tundra, icy rivers, forbidding mountain ranges, and shifting sea ice. Dogs and mushers also had to endure blizzards and avoid other animals, such as moose, bears, and reindeer herds.
    The athleticism and dedication displayed by the dogs and mushers inspired one of the most famous and intimidating races in the world—the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Every year, hundreds of athletes (both human and canine) compete in a grueling test of physical and psychological endurance from Anchorage, Alaska, to Nome.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Arctic Noun

    region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Arctic
    athlete Noun

    person who participates or competes in sporting events.

    blizzard Noun

    storm with high winds, intense cold, heavy snow, and little rain.

    crucial Adjective

    very important.

    endure Verb

    to survive.

    epidemic Noun

    outbreak of an infectious disease able to spread rapidly.

    forbid Verb

    to disallow or prohibit.

    grueling Adjective

    physically difficult.

    inspire Verb

    to influence to act.

    isolate Verb

    to set one thing or organism apart from others.

    medicine Noun

    substance used for treating illness or disease.

    musher Noun

    driver of a team of sled dogs.

    psychological Adjective

    having to do with mental facilities and awareness.

    relay adjective, noun

    type of team racing where athletes compete in sequence. Also called a relay race.

    toxin Noun

    poisonous substance, usually one produced by a living organism.

    tundra Noun

    cold, treeless region in Arctic and Antarctic climates.