Survivor races on dogged strength

Dee Dee Jonrowe, who embarked on the gruelling Iditarod sled-dog race through Alaska's wilderness for the 34th time this year on Sunday, has long been known as a survivor, having endured a deadly car crash, cancer, frostbite and numerous injuries on the trail.

But her reputation for resolve has taken on fresh meaning with this year's nearly 1,600km test of endurance, which comes just months after a wildfire destroyed her home in the town of Willow and the kennel where she housed her dog team.

Willow, about a 130km drive north of Anchorage, is the hub of Alaska's dog-sledding community. More than 1,000 sled dogs were evacuated by residents during wildfires that scorched 2,900ha.

During the gold rush era, the Iditarod trail was a supply route to mining camps, trading posts and remote bush areas.

The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which typically takes nine days or longer to complete, marks a 1925 rescue mission that delivered diphtheria serum by sled-dog relay to the Bering Sea coastal community of Nome.

The relay's most famous dog, Balto, is memorialised in a statue in New York's Central Park.

A ceremonial start for the race was staged in Anchorage last Saturday.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2016, with the headline 'Survivor races on dogged strength'. Print Edition | Subscribe