The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual staple of Alaska, covering almost 1,000 mi from Anchorage to Nome. March marks the month that this year’s journey takes place, and although it seems they’ll be out of the modern world’s grasp, tech’s influence still reins, according to the Associated Press (AP).
“This is a really low-tech event when you look at it from that perspective, but high-tech research has always been a huge part of the race,” Chas St. George, acting CEO of the Iditarod Trail Committee, tells AP.
Data is monitored via volunteers and race contractors occupying a slew of hotel rooms along the trail. Each sled is equipped with GPS trackers, so fans can go online and follow the dog teams in real time. The trackers also help the organizers ensure no team is unaccounted for, AP reports.
Satellites play their part in the race as well, as some volunteers, according to AP, “process live video streamed from checkpoints along the rugged trail, using satellite dishes. Some volunteers handle race-standing updates sent through equipment first tested last year, making it possible to activate a super-size hot spot in the most remote places with just satellite connections.”
During the race’s earlier years, updates were conveyed via faxes and amateur radio, but with the evolving times came satellite phones and modems, Reece Roberts, a supervisor in the internal communications room with 14 years of Iditarod volunteer experience, explains. In addition, mushers can use satellite phones for emergencies.
Although technology connects fans and adds a safety element to the race, a few mushers aren’t totally onboard with the high-tech additions. Some believe it takes away the rugged, remote facet of each team’s persistent effort to race through the tough Alaskan terrain.