What happens at a Checkpoint?

Libby Here!

Are you wondering how long the checkpoint breaks are? When you follow the race and watch the Internet for information, you can ’see’ how long a musher stays in a checkpoint. Looking back at the race information, you can see, some stay short amount of times, some stay longer amount of times.

A musher stays in a checkpoint as long as their race schedule and their dogs decide they should be there. Each musher thinks about a race plan way before the race starts. The dogs are trained to run a certain amount of time and then to rest a certain amount of time. During the run time, there are stops for quick rests and quick snacks. During the rest times, there are times for longer dog naps, bigger meals, and often cuddle time under dog blankets.

So, the answer to the question about how long checkpoint breaks are is this: They are as long as the dogs and mushers need them to be because of their training schedule.

Pictures on the Internet or Insider video often show what goes on in Checkpoints. You can see the vets busy examining each dog, mushers cooking meals for the dogs, and dog’s having long naps. Sometimes you can even see pictures of mushers sound asleep.

If you were running a long race, would you have a rest – run schedule? Would you run fast at times? Slow at other times? What would your schedule be like and what would you do during your breaks? Write about your thoughts!

Just spinning some de’tails’!



  1. I understand how important checkpoints are. But because of Lance Mackey’s amazing victory again, he took a sneaky move at Elim. COOL!

    Thanks for your comment. “Sneaky moves” are fun and make the race exciting. If you read stories about the races of the past, you’ll read all about mushers of the past playing tricks on each other. It is part of the race strategy and the fun of the race. Lots of Tail Wags, Zuma

    Posted by Zuma on March 14, 2008 | Permalink
  2. does anyone ever get completely lost?

    Thanks for your comment.
    The trail has trail markers so hopefully most don’t get lost at all!
    The K-9 Reporters

    Posted by Zuma on March 14, 2008 | Permalink
  3. My name is joni my teachers name is Miss caldwell my cousint is studing about you. Joni

    Posted by Zuma on March 15, 2008 | Permalink
  4. Dear Libby
    What`s your favorite color? My next door neighbor has a puppy her name is Sophia. She looks exactly like you and Zuma!
    Your Friend,

    Thanks for your comment, Lauren. My favorite colors are the colors of the northern lights. I hope you have a colorful day! Libby

    Posted by Zuma on March 15, 2008 | Permalink
  5. Zuma, this is not about checkpoints, but we thought you’d like to know what we did in class. We just finished our mini dog sleds. We made the sleds out of popsicle sticks.We used smooth rocks as our dogs because they kind of look like them. We used felt for ears and noses and glued on eyes. We brought in shoe boxes to make a diorama. It looks like there’s a person racing and about to win. We also made a burled arch to look like the musher is finishing the race. It’s cute!
    My favorite musher is Rachel Scdoris. We think she’s a good musher! Well, I need to get going.

    Ritchie School

    WOW! What a GREAT project! I know each person in your class learned so much while having an awesome time. Tell your teacher to send me a picture of the project your class did. I’d like to see the them!
    Mr.Fedorco’s grade 4 class.

    Posted by Zuma on March 15, 2008 | Permalink
  6. Do you think that they should change up the checkpoints so that wouldn’t of happen to Jeff King but I also read that earlier that Jeff King layed on Lance Makey’s boots so that was pretty tricky know write back soon

    Great question! Lots of people read about Lance leaving the checkpoint while Jeff King was sleeping. Lots of students wondered if that was fair. Let us try to remember, this is a race. Lance and Jeff both were having a great race and both had a good chance at taking first place. Why would you wake your competitor up and tell them you are leaving if you both want to win first place? No rule says you should. Each musher makes decisions on when to sleep and when to drive the dog team. If a musher wants to keep an eye on another musher, sleeping on the musher’s boots to make sure you wake up when the other musher needs his or her boots, is a pretty good plan and maybe sneaky, too. Going back and reading about the history of the race, you would find lots of stories of mushers trying to trick each other. This is a race and playing tricks isn’t against any rules. This is a great topic for classroom discussion.

    Lots of Tail Wags, Zuma

    Posted by Zuma on March 15, 2008 | Permalink
  7. Hi Libby and Zuma.
    Do you think that you could ever win the Iditarod? In school we did a project. I was following Cindy Gallea on the race track. I know they eat “trailmix” while they are on the track. If you can please write back. Zuma, Please put your pawprint on. Thank you.

    Libby and I aren’t racing dogs. Thanks for the idea about the paw print. I am sure people on the trail snack on trail mix, but mushers and volunteers eat delicious meals like you do at home.

    We’ll work on seeing if we can put that in for next year.

    Posted by Zuma on March 15, 2008 | Permalink
  8. Hi. I am a second grader at Grant Wood School in Iowa. We were doing a project in school where we follow an iditarod racer by picking a name written on papers facedown on the table. I picked LANCE MACKEY and since he won I got to pass out the treats to the class, and I got to have two treats! It was a lot of fun following LANCE MACKEY.


    Posted by Zuma on March 15, 2008 | Permalink
  9. What happens if you get lost and you are off track but no one can find you and you are alone without your dog sled team but finally you come back to the checkpoint and finish the race by walking?-Ana Maria&Alejandro
    Hi, When a team gets away from a musher their only priority is to find their team. You can read the rules (#19) to get more information. You can find the rules on the Iditarods main site at http://www.iditarod.com Thanks for writing. Gypsy

    Posted by Ana Maria & Ale on February 28, 2009 | Permalink

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