Posted in Things To Do In Alaska

This photo is used under a Creative Commons license by AlaskanDude.

“Away up in Alaska

The state that stands alone

There’s a dog race run from Anchorage into Nome

And it’s a grueling race with a lightning pace

Where chilly winds do wail.

Beneath the northern lights, across snow and ice

It’s called the Iditarod Trail.”

Hobo Jim, Alaskan folk singer/songwriter

There are less than three months to go before the 2014 Iditarod Sled Dog Race kicks off with more than 70 teams taking to the trail. Preparations for this widely popular event are well underway, as are preparations for all the events surrounding the Iditarod. Just around the block from the Westmark Anchorage Hotel you will find all kinds of fun activities and happenings leading up to the grandest event of them all. Be sure to book your room early, though, because when the Iditarod comes to Anchorage, rooms fill up fast!

Here are a few of the activities we recommend checking out while you’re in town for the Iditarod:

GCI Snow Sculpture Competition – Down in Ship Creek, just down the street from the Alaska Railroad Historic Depot, the GCI Snow Sculpture Competition pits incredible snow sculptures, created by teams representing local businesses and organizations, against each other in one of the most creative competitions of the year. Check out these sculptures by day or by night when the sculptures are lit up from Feb. 21 – March 2, between 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Fur Rondy Outhouse Races – This is one race you will not be seeing in Sochi 2014!  On Saturday, Feb. 22, teams of four people – with one extra person seated on the toilet – race down Anchorage’s Fourth Avenue pushing themed outhouses, built according to a list of strict guidelines and mounted on skis. Cheer on the runners from the sidelines, and don’t forget to hold your hat out for the mandatory candy thrown by the seated passenger.

Fur Rondy Running of the Reindeer – For the past seven years, a somewhat unique tradition has taken local folks and visitors to the streets of downtown Anchorage dressed in a wide range of bizarre costumes with the sole mission of escaping the raging hordes of trampling reindeer. Okay, perhaps a more honest description would be a peaceful, amenable horde of slowly trotting reindeer, but you get the point. It’s like the less serious, much safer, only-in-Alaska version of Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls! Join the fun or watch from the sidelines as the annual Running of the Reindeer takes to the streets the same day and in the same location as the Iditarod ceremonial start.