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I for "Iditarod"

The ABC Countdown continues at St. Viator Elementary School. Dr. Rieger recommended assigning the "I" day to the Alaskan dogsled race, the Iditarod. She found a "musher" online and coordinated the visit. Students were treated to a visit from an actual dogsled musher! She brought her sled, her gear, and one of her dogs to share with the students.

Karen Land, musher

Karen Land is a writer, public speaker and library-lover, in addition to being a musher. She grew up in Indiana, but was influenced to move to Alaska and learn to mush dogsleds after a book sparked her interest. Her friend Phil joined the presentation to help with the gear. And the star of the show was her sled dog, Noggin!

Some History

Ms. Land spoke for over an hour about the famous dogsled race, the Iditarod. She explained that "iditarod" is a native Alaskan word meaning "far away place", and that there is actually a town on the race course with that name.

Karen kept the students engaged, often posing questions to the rapt crowd. She informed them that the race was first run in 1973. The course is roughly 1,000 miles and takes ten days, on average, to complete.

A Little Help From Some Friends

Ms. Land demonstrated the length of a full 16-dog sled team with some help from the students. When the lead line was run out completely, the team almost spanned the length of the gym!

Gearing Up

Part of Karen's presentation is dressing an audience member in her race gear. Mr. Pingo, our Physical Education teacher, was up for the job!

The multiple layers help protect racers from the elements during the Iditarod. On a May Chicago afternoon, they made for a warm Mr. Pingo!

Saying Good-bye

Ms. Karen and Noggin said good-bye to each student as they left. Students were allowed to give Noggin a gentle pet on the way out.

Our thanks go out to Karen Land and her friend Phil for joining us and sharing their experience on the Iditarod. If you want to learn more about Karen, check out her blog here. It was so great to meet Noggin and learn more about the dogs that run the Iditarod. Thank you to our own Dr. Rieger for suggesting a unique and interesting theme for the day, then finding Ms. Land! Let the countdown continue!

We are Peace Builders; We are Eagles; We are St. Viator!


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