The 41st Iditarod has drawn to a close.
The residents of Nome return to their daily routines, the snow and wind erase the tracks of the 66 sled dog teams who traveled over 1,000 miles.
But perhaps the most telling sign the Iditarod has ended is the extinguished “widow’s lamp.”
The widow’s lamp—hung atop the finishing line—burns red throughout the race symbolically helping mushers reach Nome, but it is not extinguished until the last musher “returns” safely.
The untold story behind this lamp dates back to the 1800’s/early 1900’s Alaskan history. Alaskan mail and freight mushers would light the lamp outside checkpoints to help guide those who were out in the wilderness and it would not be extinguished until the musher successfully returned to the checkpoint—hence the reason the lamp burns during the whole of the Iditarod. Continue reading
Video filmed by Marc Heft. Edited by Jesse Tarlton.
The Iditarod was inspired by the 1925 Race for Mercy or Serum Run, during which life-saving diphtheria serum was delivered to Nome via sled dog teams. All of the dogs were amazing, including the most famous, Balto. But it was Leonhard Seppala and a 12-year old, undersized husky, named Togo, who led a team five times further than any other sled dog team over treacherous, unchartered territory. Without Togo, the villagers of Nome would likely have perished. This blog post is part of TogoRun’s campaign to tell Togo’s untold story.