With a route map stretching from coast to coast and into Canada and Mexico, working for Compass can equate to some pretty incredible sightseeing opportunities for our crew members. This month, two of our pilots, Chad Rabinowitz and John Burris, took advantage of an overnight layover in Fairbanks, Alaska to catch the start of the iconic Iditarod dog sled race. The famed event usually starts in the town of Willow, Alaska, after a ceremonial start in Anchorage, but poor track conditions required organizers to move the start to Fairbanks for only the third time in the race’s history.
The 1,000 mile race commemorates the 1925 “Great Race of Mercy,” when sled dogs brought desperately needed diphtheria medication to the Alaska town of Nome. A diphtheria outbreak had exhausted the town’s supply of anti-toxins, and the closest medication was over 500 miles away in Anchorage. As blizzard conditions and frozen harbors made it impossible to deliver the serum by plane or ship, sled dogs were used to transport the life saving medication to Nome.
“We couldn’t believe our luck when we found out that our layover in Fairbanks would coincide with the start of the most famous dog sled race in the world,” Chad remarked. “The number of people who braved sub-zero temperatures to watch the 60+ teams start their 1,000 mile journey was a pretty incredible sight.”
As it turns out, Chad and John were on hand for the start of what would become an historic one-two finish. Father and son duo Mitch and Dallas Seavey came in first and second, with Mitch coming in two and a half hours ahead of his son, Dallas. In addition to becoming the only father and son duo to claim the two top spots in the same year, Mitch and Dallas are both the oldest and youngest winners in the event’s history. At 57, Mitch is the oldest ever winning Iditarod driver. Dallas holds the record as the youngest driver to win the Iditarod, having won it in 2012 at the age of 25.