Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Countdown continues to Iditarod 40!

With just twenty four days until the Iditarod runs down fourth avenue for the start of the 40th annual "Last Great Race on Earth" attention turned earlier this week to the official website and the new and improved look and feel. Iditarod Insider has completely taken over the website and the sleek new style promotes what they have to offer.

Iditarod Insider began a few years ago when the Iditarod began to truly embrace the Internet as a way to keep fans connected world wide. It started out with a members only blog and videos - with expert commentary - and later added in the GPS Tracking system that just about every race in Alaska and Canada now uses to promote their race to the masses. Fans can sit at their computer and watch, almost in real time, the action on the trail GPS trackers update every 5 to 20 minutes with the current position and speed of each team, videos are uploaded with interviews of volunteers, mushers and experts talking about the trail they just ran on and what's up ahead. Northern lights, sled dogs, and wildlife are all featured. It brings the race to life in ways that couldn't have been imagined when Joe Reddington Sr. started the race forty years ago.

It was just fifteen years ago that Alaskans were still going to their phones or newspapers for the news on the race. Growing up, I didn't watch the Iditarod on a computer screen. We waited for the newspaper and TV reporters to tell us of the day's events, and if we wanted to know who was at what checkpoint we went to the post office (where they kept an updated checkpoint list) or we could call to race central to find out the latest on our favorite teams. Schools also listed the current stats at the beginning and end of every school day. The race still took close to two weeks, the average of ten days wouldn't happen until I was well into my teen years.

Now they're offering several levels of insider. For free you can log in and play around with many features - but a lot of the stuff is still locked. You can purchase just the GPS for 19.95, or just videos (same price). You can buy both for 33.95. There are other options, but I haven't gone through everything yet.

If you do go to keep in mind that while the new design is live, they're still fixing some bugs (the biggest one, that I find anyway, is that you can no longer access the volunteer form online). You can always contact the Iditarod through the website or their facebook page .

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