Can you imagine running nearly 1,000 miles through the Alaskan wilderness? In the snow? Pulling a sled?

For some dogs, it’s a dream come true, the life they were destined for. And starting Saturday, March 5, 2016, many of those dogs will take to the trail for the 45th annual Iditarod, a grueling race from Anchorage to Nome, also know as The Last Great Race On Earth.

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Even before its start, The Last Great Race On Earth has already been met with some challenges from Mother Nature: A warm winter has meant that Alaska hasn’t seen its average snowfall, and much of what the state has had has melted. But this year’s 85 mushers and their dog teams aren’t daunted—they’re ready to take on what the trail will throw at them, to test their endurance, and to see who can hit that finish line first. Or even at all.

The Last Great Race On Earth takes eight to ten days, and there are bound to be some surprises and upsets along the way. You can follow the teams and keep up with the race standings here. Meanwhile, check out these fun facts about this amazing sport:

  • According to the official Iditarod site, most teams are made up of 16 dogs, so there will be over 1,200 dogs racing this year.
  • National Geographic tells us that only Northern dog breeds (think Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute) are allowed to race—organizers feel that other breeds aren’t equipped to handle the wintry terrain.
  • In 1978, after almost 15 days of racing, there was a photo finish—the winner was decided by a nose of the lead dog.
  • points out that conditions can be brutal, with temperatures dropping to 73 below zero and blizzard and whiteout conditions.
  • The youngest musher was Dallas Seavey in 2005—he was 18. The oldest musher was Col. Norman D. Vaughan, who competed at 84 years old in 1994.
  • To learn more, go to the Iditarod site, or check out this cool video.

Good luck to all the dog teams racing this year! Have fun and be safe. We will be watching you all on your journey of The Last Great Race On Earth!

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