Dog Sled Races in Google Earth: Iditarod and Finnmarksløpet

Winter time in the northern hemisphere is almost over. That means its time for the dog-sled racing competitions! This year we have the two biggest races covered in Google Earth.

  • The Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Google Earth Iditarod 2007 – Matt Nolan has again contacted me to let me know about this year’s 1100 mile Iditarod dog race in Alaska. Visit the official site for details. Matt has a web page dedicated to his virtual globe content for the race including a Google Earth file which shows the race track and checkpoints, weather, and live tracking of the racers. The race has already started, so check it out now.
  • Finnmarksløpet – This is Europe’s longest sled-dog race and has been held since 1981. The staff has, along with the NRK – Norwegian National TV, traced the route and added photos and information about each checkpoint. The 1000 km race starts this Saturday (March 10th) at 1145 local time. Here is the main web site. Here is the race course and checkpoints in Google Earth. They say there will be live coverage at the NRK site, it’s not clear to me whether you will be able to follow racer positions with Google Earth.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.


  1. Margery Glickman says:

    The Iditarod is cruel to dogs. For more information, visit the Sled Dog Action Coalition website,

  2. finnmarkslopet says:

    You can follow the race on google map.

  3. Margery: You should probably go bear hunting then.

  4. Ron Winton says:

    Margery Glickman is a liar who attempted to defame my friend’s good name with her efforts to convince people to boycott his business. Despite his numerous efforts to prove without a shadow of a doubt that he had never sponsored an Iditarod. He had to hire an attorney to convince her to remove his name from her website. He had never even heard of the Iditarod until he received an email from a stranger complaining about his company’s name on Margery Glickman’s website. She needs to get her facts straight ! She’s so wicked that she never even apologized for her gross mistake in identity. A child with an average level of intelligence could have easily determined that she had identified the wrong person especially after being presented with all of the evidence that she was provided with. In my oppinion Margery Glickman’s integrity and credibility leaves a lot to be desired ! She lied then and who knows what she would lie about now to further her self centered cause. It’s not about the animals it’s all about Margery Glickman and her ego. Why don’t you do the right thing Margery and print a retraction and an apology ?

  5. I am a dog musher from Anchorage Alaska, and I would like to clear up a few of the facts Margery Glickman stated in her comment.
    First of all, the percentage of dogs that die in the Iditarod is not nearly as much as the percentage of household pets that die everyday due to starvation, being hit by cars, neglect, etc. Out of the 52 million pet dogs in the United States, 6.2 million die every year due to the above mentioned causes. Thats 12 percent. Out of the 1088 dogs that started the 2009 Iditarod, 6 died. Thats only 0.6 percent.
    The injuries that occur in the Iditarod are no different or worse than the injuries in any other major race. In the 2008 Boston marathon, paramedics treated over 900 runners in their medical tents. The injuries included: 3 heart attacks, dehydration, hyponatremia, hypothermia, sprained muscles, tendonitis, contusions, stress fractures, and much more. Any sporting event will show the same statistics – many injuries occur.
    In 2009, 505 dogs (out of 1088) didn’t finish the race. That’s 46%. Just because 46% of the dogs don’t finish the race, doesn’t mean that all 46% dropped out due to injury or other causes. Out of the 505 dogs that didn’t finish the race, 256 were on teams that dropped out of the race all together. A large majority of the dogs are taken out of the race because the musher is stopping for their best interest. If a dog team is not strong enough to complete the race, a musher will drop out for the sake of the dogs. The dog musher’s primary concern is the health and safety of their dog team.
    Average lifespan of a pet dog is about 12 years. Average lifespan of a sled dog is 14 years. This is proof that sled dogs are very well cared for throughout their life, and receive the best treatment possible. This is what allows them to have such a long lifespan.
    You mentioned the use of a whip. Not many mushers use whips, but for those who do, the whip never comes in physical contact with a dog. The use of the whip is to create a noise which the dogs are trained to respond to, just like if a musher were to yell a command at the dog. The dogs are not afraid of the noise – the cracking noise the whip makes can be compared to the whistle a person uses to train hunting dogs.
    A musher is not allowed to pass through a checkpoint until the dogs are checked over by the veterinarians. All of the vets along the race course are so skilled and well-trained that they can spot injuries by watching the way a dog acts. There are multiple vets at each checkpoint, so when a dog team pulls in, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes for the vets to completely check over the entire team.
    Most mushers chain their dogs using a 10 to 12 foot chain, which gives the dogs a 112 square foot area to run in. The average dorm room size (for 2 people) is 228 square feet. Thats 114 square feet per person. A 112 square foot area provides plenty of room for a dog to run around in. Dog yards are also chained in to prevent animals such as wolves and bears from getting in.
    Colonel Tom Classen was quoted in the comment, however, I have no idea why his opinion is qualified on the subject of dog mushing. Sure, he is a long time Alaskan resident, but he has no history with dog mushing or any sled dogs at all. He is an air force Colonel, not a veterinarian.
    Mushers do not race the Iditarod for “fortune.” The cost to raise, train, and care for a competitive 16-dog Iditarod team for just ONE year is between 150 and 200 THOUSAND dollars. The winning prize in 2009 was $69 thousand. Mushing is a very expensive sport, and no dog musher makes a profit off of it.
    Please don’t judge dog mushing until you can actually see sled dogs at work and see how much they love to do what they do. The “Sled Dog Action Coalition” that Margery Glickman mentioned is based out of Miami, Florida. I’m not sure how anyone from Miami can have any real knowledge about dog mushing.

  6. Can you imagine what would happen to these dogs if they were in a traditional dog leash?? The pet industry as a whole would be well served to see how these owners treat and train their dogs AND the harnesses they use!

  7. Dog racing? I don’t like that!

  8. It doesn’t matter if mushing or sledding isn’t done for profit; it’s done for sport and entertainment which still makes it cruel. Forcing a dog to sled 1,000 miles in the cold sounds pretty cruel to me.

  9. reetztony says:

    Thank you very much for the KML Iditarod file. I’ve used it to make an online version of the IditaRead, a program for elementary school children to read their way along the Iditarod trail. The articles can be found on my site, starting at

    If you have a chance and are able to make a KML for the Fairbanks route, which had to be used this year because of lack of snow in Anchorage, I’d greatly appreciate it.

  10. justsoyouknow says:

    I worked with the dogs and their owners for this race over the course of a half winter.

    I can confirm that the dogs were chained to their kennels with approximately 1m leash throughout the time that they were not training (most of their lives) which led to a lot of them with depression and stereo-typical behaviours (pacing, biting). I found the dogs were ignored unless being fed/trained.The dogs were unable to properly shelter in their kennels which were mostly full of holes and some even preferred to scrape a hole in front than suffer the draughts. The dogs were not allowed to properly socialise, which meant they often built up jealousy and fought at the earliest opportunity, and because they are chained, they have to suffer the consequences. Taking the dogs for a walk was a nightmare because the dogs knew it was only ever going to happen once or twice a year – these people have so many dogs they cannot look after them as sentient creatures. The author above says the dogs are the priority – the person I worked for shot the dogs as soon as they were too old to do the race.

    When the race is done, Many tourists come to go sledding with these dogs, the dogs work 12 hour days while the humans work shifts. I was told to tell them total BS by the owners to allay any concerns about cruelty (eg they are taken for walks, they are on a rota..rubbish I walked only a small percentage in my own free time without pay, out of pity for them).

    Not only do the dogs get shot – last year a polar bear was shot in the training for the Norwegian race – all because the people in the race ‘were too tired’ to put up the alarm system.

    And ‘Hannah’ is desparate in her greed:
    Never in my life have I seen a dog on a 12ft chain in these events – they would get tangled up!
    They have a cheek to compare stats, longevity depends on the species of dog, most sled dogs are mongrels or larger dogs. And it is really scraping the barrel to say ‘oh 100 dogs die of abuse in the US so we can kill 5 because we want the $75,000,00 prize money”.I would like to crack a whip in her face and see if she thinks it is ‘communication’. The only reason they use a whip is because it hurts and sends fear into the dogs – even if one dog reacts the others must do the same. The prize money is only one of the benefits – they win the race- they breed the winning dogs for thousands more saying ‘ this is an Iditarod dog”. They are then sponsored and, with a cash prize they also get other things (in Norway, a holiday house built to their specifications). Also, they do not drop out for the sake of their dogs (HAHAHAHA), you do not even need to win the race to get almost all of the money (Fourth place – $51,825.00!!!)

    BTW, another point, these racers have no skill : the race is often won by a driver that ‘rents’ the dog team just before the race, without ever meeting them before. He doesn’t know or care about the dogs.

    Whilst it is a pity one person seems to have been incorrectly slandered, spare a thought for the real victims.

PLEASE NOTE: Google Earth Blog is no longer writing regular posts. As a result, we are not accepting new comments or questions about Google Earth. If you have a question, use the official Google Earth and Maps Forums or the Google Earth Community Forums.