Great Race

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1925 serum run to Nome

The 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the Great Race of Mercy and The Serum Run, was a transport of diphtheria antitoxin by dog sled relay across the U.S. territory of Alaska by 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs across 674 miles (1,085 km) in 5 ½ days, saving the small town of Nome and the surrounding communities from a developing epidemic. Both the mushers and their dogs were portrayed as heroes in the newly popular medium of radio, and received headline coverage in newspapers across the United States. Balto, the lead sled dog on the final stretch into Nome, became the most famous canine celebrity of the era after Rin Tin Tin, and his statue is a popular tourist attraction in both New York City's Central Park and downtown Anchorage, Alaska, but it was Togo who covered the longest stretch out of the run which is 260 miles while Balto covered 55 miles. The publicity also helped spur an inoculation campaign in the U.S. that dramatically reduced the threat of the disease. The sled dog was the primary means of transportation and communication in subarctic communities around the world, and the race became both the last great hurrah and the most famous event in the history of mushing, before the first aircraft in the late 1920s and then the snowmobile in the 1960s drove the dog sled almost into extinction. The world famous Iditarod Race was not conceived to commemorate the serum run but as a race that the co-founders hoped would bring sled dogs back to the villages.