The world is filled with all kinds of races from runners to cars to horses. But perhaps one of the more unique races is the Iditarod dog sled race, held in Alaska, typically in early March each year. Since 1973, brave men and women have tethered well-trained dogs to a sled and mushed from Anchorage to Nome, a distance through the Alaskan wilderness of over 1,000 miles, all in the course of 8-10 days.

Through the Wilderness

The racers begin in Anchorage for a ceremonial start, then move to Willow, AK, approximately 80 miles north of Anchorage for a restart. From then forward, there are checkpoints along the route; however, the trip is across rough, isolated terrain. Also working against the racers is the sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions. Wind chill temperatures can reach upwards of -100 degrees Fahrenheit.


Depending on which route is taken, there are 26-27 checkpoints along the route for racers to check in. Some mushers choose to camp on the trail so they can reduce stop times, while others stay and rest. The mushers send ahead “drop bags” of supplies for themselves including food, batteries, extra booties for their dog’s paws, and sled repair parts. The drop bags are delivered by the Iditarod Air Force and are a vital survival link for the racers.

Satellite Communication

This year, Outfitter Satellite has partnered with the Iditarod Race and Iridium to provide satellite handsets for race officials along the route. The remote nature of the checkpoints along the route presents a unique challenge for staying in contact with racers and other officials. Iridium handsets, however, function anywhere on the planet and therefore provide a perfect solution for race officials no matter where they are along the trail.

No matter where you travel, Iridium handsets are an unsurpassed safety measure. Whether on the Iditarod trail, the Brazilian rain forest, or the Colorado mountains, having a way to keep in contact with family and friends or emergency medical services is an inexpensive safety device and provides peace-of-mind in remote travel locations.

Outfitter Satellite rents the Iridium 9555 and the Iridium GO! New and used units for the 9555 and GO! are also available for sale, as well as the new Iridium Extreme 9575 with a ruggedized exterior, water resistance, and emergency SOS button. Service options include monthly and prepaid options.