Musher aims to save a piece of Iditarod history
Today, there are very few remnants in Nome of the 1925 serum run that inspired the Iditarod race.
The event was perhaps the most legendary moment in sled dog history-- when a team of more than 100 dogs brought life-saving serum to Nome.
The more than 1000-mile relay to stop the diphtheria outbreak shined a national spotlight on Nome. But today, there’s little left in Nome still standing from that time.
Urtha Lenharr is a musher on a mission to save a piece of that history. Lenharr is determined to save a home which once belonged to Leonhard Seppala, a musher who was instrumental in the 1925 serum race to Nome.
"It’s just a part of history that we hate to see torn back down and destroyed," Lenharr said. "The city of Nome wants to get rid of some of the houses that are vacant because they are fire hazards."
Lenharr wants to restore the building and the memory of Sepalla’s dogs.
"It was his dog Balto and Togo that ended up coming into Nome with serum," Lenharr said.
Balto took the gold for that one with musher Gunnar Kaasen. But Fritz, who ran a longer stretch of the serum race with Sepalla, is on display in the Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome.
"Fritz is often called the unsung hero," said Amy Phillips-Chan, the museum's director. "The original plan, as it’s told, is that Seppala was supposed to make the final run into Nome and Gunnar Kaasen came in and said 'I’ll take the serum from here."
The medicine saved dozens of lives-- and potentially an entire town.
Now, Lenharr wants to revive that legacy by breathing new life into an old home.
Every year, Iditarod mushers run a race similar to the Great Serum Race-- training teams to cross almost a thousand miles of Alaska wilderness to reach Nome.
Though the race and Nome have changed over time, Iditarod keeps that iconic moment alive in the hearts and minds of Alaskans and the world.
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