The Last Great Race will now be one part of a four-race circuit.

The Iditarod Trail Committee (ITC) on Friday announced Alaska's sled dog race has partnered with Aker Biomarine, a Norwegian company that harvests krill from Antarctica and manufactures a line of food for canine athletes, specifically sled dogs. Several mushers are sponsored by the company, including Iditarod champions Dallas Seavey and Joar Leifseth Ulsom.

In honor of the sport of long-distance dog mushing, Aker Biomarine created the nonprofit QRILL Pet Arctic World Series (QPAWS), a four-race series that spans the globe.

Iditarod will be the final race in the circuit. The others are the John Beargrease in Minnesota; the Femundlopet in Norway; and the Volga Quest in Russia. 

CEO of Aker Biomarine, Matts Johansen, said in a release the QPAWS is a long-term investment in dog mushing. 

"We strongly believe in the sport of dog mushing and the culture it represents, and we want to help it get the international attention and recognition it deserves,” Johansen said in the release.

According to Chas St. George with the ITC, the partnership has been in the works since fall 2018. Aker Biomarine came to see the 2019 running of the Iditarod, after which the ITC signed a letter of intent to work with the company. 

The bottom line of the partnership is animal care, which St. George said was agreed upon at the beginning. 

"We all agreed that this was in the best interest of not only our event but in the best interest of the dogs," St. George said about a meeting in Oslo, Norway, "And its really embracing the culture, the circumpolar culture that has been in existence for thousands of years."

The partnership includes television and digital production, as well as a point system between all of the races. 

The ceremonial start of the 2020 Iditarod is March 7.

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