Sports You Won't See Anywhere Else But Alaska

If you’re a sports fanatic who’s up for watching any event that pits people against each other, against themselves or against nature, then you should head up to Alaska and check out these athletic events that you won't see anywhere in America except the Last Frontier.

1. Iditarod Race

Simply put, the Iditarod Race is the Super Bowl of dogsledding. And it's not for the faint of heart.

We're talking about a 950+ mile excursion through some of Alaska's most ruthless wilderness. Contestants face whiteouts, gale force winds and temperatures of -100 F in a race that lasts from 8 to 15 days in March - depending on how fast they can mush. Along the way, they have to make camp and prepare meals for themselves as well as their teams of 21 dogs.

That's why entry is restricted to professional racers.

And you'll probably be glad to watch this event on the sidelines when the sleds rumble through the state's towns and cities en route to their final destination in the northern town of Nome. 

2. World Eskimo-Indian Olympics

Every July, athletes representing Alaska's Native peoples gather in Fairbanks for the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics -- a celebration of the state's indigenous cultures. So these aren't your typical Olympic events - like pummel horse and relay racing. The events are designed to test qualities needed to survive in the north: strength, endurance, agility and precision.

So the events include Ear Weights (suspending weights from the ears to mimic the pain of frost bite), Kneel Jump (leaping in a crouched position -- like when you need to hop away from ice breaking up beneath you on a frozen lake) and culinary events like Seal Skinning and Fish Cutting.

Spectators will also get a chance to check out traditional dances, crafts sold by on-site vendors and indigenous cuisine. So you can come here to try rare dishes like muktuk -- if you have the courage to eat raw whale blubber.

3. Snowmachine Races

A "snowmachine" is what we call snowmobiles in the Lower 48. But Alaska is the best place to catch professional races. 

If you want to see a snowmachine marathon, check out the Iron Dog competition featuring over 20 pros racing through over 2,000 miles of terrain in February. And with more than $200,000 in prizes on the line, you know these competitors are going to bring their A-game as they speed through Alaskan towns and cities, starting in the Anchorage suburb of Big Lake and finishing in the northern town of Nome.  

But if you'd rather see a whole race, head to Nome in April for the annual Cannonball Snowmachine Race. Competitors tear up the 25-mile route around the northern town - which includes a mile-long trek over the Bering Sea. And unlike the Iron Dog, the Cannonball Race is run on a circuit, so you can root for your favorite racers as they do lap after lap.

Or you can watch a race from the machine's POV in this clip.


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