This is a guest post from Fern Levitt, the award-winning documentary filmmaker behind Sled Dogs, the first film to expose the brutal reality of the dogsled racing and tourism industry.
March 3, 2018 marked the start of the 46th annual Iditarod dogsled race in Alaska, and I was there at the ceremonial start. Not as a filmmaker embarking on another documentary, but to stand with others in protest of this “last great race”.
The lavish opening ceremony is in sharp contrast to the humble beginnings of the race itself: In 1925 teams of sled dogs and mushers transported a life saving serum over 1000 miles to the remote village of Nome, a town inflicted with an outbreak of diphtheria. Despite sub-zero temperatures and gale force winds, the teams of sled dogs made the route in record time and the entire town was saved. The mushers and dogs were considered heroes and celebrated throughout the United States.
The Iditarod began in 1973 as a race to commentate the 19…