Run, Iditarod dogs, run!

News From the Last Great Race on Earth: 'Pee Pants,' a Plane Crash and Indigenous Mushers Making a Good Showing at the Iditarod

March 06, 2013

The 2013 Iditarod is underway and the Last Great Race on Earth is providing thrills in the early going. Here's a roundup of what's happening so far.

Of the nine indigenous mushers racing this year, Peter Kaiser, Yup'ik, is currently nearest the lead, with several not far behind. As of the morning of March 6, Kaiser is running 12th. John Baker, Inupiat and the 2011 winner, is sitting 18th. Michael Williams Jr, Yup'ik, is 24th, with Williams Sr hot on his tail, in 26th. The overall leader is Lance Mackey, a four-time champion.

Reuters is reporting that a small plane crashed this morning near a mountain checkpoint along the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, killing all three people aboard, state officials said on Tuesday.  The plane and those aboard were not part of the "Iditarod Air Force," the group of volunteer pilots who ferry supplies and race officials to checkpoints and take dropped dogs back to Anchorage, a race spokeswoman told Reuters.

"All our pilots and all our folks are accounted for," Iditarod spokeswoman Erin McLarnon said.

Meanwhile, the Anchorage Daily News reports that some mushers are test-driving special "pee pants." Iditarod veteran Angie Taggart of Ketchikan and Anchorage musher Christine Roalofs are testing an invention that is meant to keep mushers on their runners and out of outhouses across the nearly 1,000 mile course. At least two other mushers are using the apparatus -- a mix of bicycle shorts, funnel and a tube that pokes out next to the musher's boot -- this year on the trail, according to the Daily News.

Photoblogs of the event are popular, with NBC News providing some fine shots. And even pop culture site is getting in on the action, with their gallery, "The 19 Most Excited Photos of Iditarod Racing Dogs."

Everybody loves photos Iditarod dogs, and has the most excited ones. (Image by NATHANIEL WILDER / Reuters)

For the latest info, race standings, videos and much more, go to the official Iditarod Race News Center.