Sunday, February 26, 2012


Last year at this time Lit in the Last Frontier was a brand new blog with only a handful of followers, but I decided to institute an Alaska reading tradition, the IditaRead, and we had fun with it!  Every year the famous sled dog race, the Iditarod, is run through the wilds of Alaska, and Alaskan readers at home challenge themselves to keep up with their favorite racers (called "mushers") by reading one page for each mile their team goes.  Our children take part in IditaRead programs throughout the state in their public and home school programs.  Libraries also offer IditaRead programs.  I hope that you will decide to join us this year in this uniquely Alaskan tradition!  The rules are super easy, you can jump right in, even in the middle of a book, and the whole family can do it!  And there are some uniquely Alaskan prizes to be won!

IditaRead 2012

Here are the rules!  It is really very simple:

  • You may read anything.  Whatever book you are currently reading or planning to read will count.
  • The challenge is open to everyone, irregardless of age.  If you are doing this with a child, just make sure the books are on their reading level.  Books they read to younger siblings count, including picture books.  If you read a picture book to a younger child, every three pages counts as one page for the adult reader.  If you read a chapter book aloud to your children, it counts for both of you!  Let's promote family reading!
  • Begin counting pages at 10am Alaska Standard Time on Saturday March 3rd.  AST is one hour behind Pacific time.  If you are a little late getting this message, make an honest guess.
  • You may begin counting in the middle of a book; in your first check in, just say, "I read pages 169-253", or whatever the case may be. 
  • You may check in as often as you like, but the easiest way is to check in each time you hit the next check point.  Below is the official route and checkpoint listing.  As an example, say you post to tell me you have read 115 pages.  I will let you know that you are past the Yentna checkpoint, and that your next checkpoint is 8 pages from now, when I will mark you as passing through Skwentna Station.
  • You do not have to check in that often.  You can check in after 500 pages (or whatever), and I will tell you that you that you blew through Cripple and are 65 pages from Ruby.
  • You can also just look at the middle column of numbers below and tell me when you reach each checkpoint.
  • You need to report: book title, author, number of pages, one sentence about what you are reading at the time.  If you want to take the time, a quick star ranking at the end of each book is nice.  
  • This is obviously run purely on the honor system.  I try to offer good prizes for three finishers to encourage honesty.
  • The actual Iditarod race is won in about a week, but this challenge will go for as long as readers are posting their pages read.  Iditarod mushers have a never quit attitude-I hope IditaRead readers feel the same way!

    What can you win?  Cold Hands Warm Heart is my winner's book this year!  It is an oldie but goodie by long time Iditarod favorite and four time champion Jeff King.  He is a hero in our home and we look forward to sending his excellent book into some of yours.
    • First Place: Jeff King's Cold Hands Warm Heart (book) and an official 2012 Iditarod t-shirt
    • Second Place: Jeff King's Cold Hands Warm Heart (book) and an official 2012 Iditarod mug
    • Third Place: Jeff King's Cold Hands Warm Heart (book)

    I have listed all the checkpoints consecutively on the "Checkpoints 2012" page, as this page was getting too long.  If we fill up that one as well, I will start a second checkpoints page.  As you reach each one I will enter your name.  The only time it can be crucial to check in is toward the very end, if we have a couple of close runners, in which case I will go by the time you posted your message to determine the winner.

    A fun added element is to choose an actual musher and try to keep up, reading as many pages as they travel in miles.  If your musher has to scratch you can do one of two things-carry on in their name, or switch to a musher still in the running.  My two favorite sites for following the race are:

    The northern route is run in even years, and the southern route is run is odd years. To read more about the Iditarod Trail and checkpoints, go here.
    CheckpointTerrain between
    Distance between
    Distance from
    Distance to
    Total Distance975
    AnchorageAnchorage to Campbell Airstrip1111964
    Campbell AirstripCampbell Airstrip to Willow_________
    WillowWillow to Yentna Station4253922
    Yentna StationYentna Station to Skwentna3083892
    SkwentnaSkwentna to Finger Lake40123852
    Finger LakeFinger Lake to Rainy Pass30153822
    Rainy PassRainy Pass to Rohn35188787
    RohnRohn to Nikolai75263712
    NikolaiNikolai to McGrath48311664
    McGrathMcGrath to Takotna18329646
    TakotnaTakotna to Ophir23352623
    OphirOphir to Cripple73425550
    CrippleCripple to Ruby70495480
    RubyRuby to Galena50545430
    GalenaGalena to Nulato37582393
    NulatoNulato to Kaltag47629346
    KaltagKaltag to Unalakleet85714261
    UnalakleetUnalakleet to Shaktoolik40754221
    ShaktoolikShaktoolik to Koyuk50804171
    KoyukKoyuk to Elim48852123
    ElimElim to Golovin2888095
    GolovinGolovin to White Mountain1889877
    White MountainWhite Mountain to Safety5595322
    SafetySafety to Nome229750


    1. Just a reminder: Do not begin posting counting until 10 am Alaska Standard Time on Saturday March 3rd. and post on the new PAGE: IDITAREAD 2012.

    2. Ok - I'm in again this year. But I am not going to try as hard to win since I won last year. But I have to warn everybody - I read a lot!

      I am a huge fan of the Iditarod. So I love doing this just to be involved. Fun!
      Thanks Care for hosting this challenge!

    3. Thanks for pointing it out at PBT. I like it, so I'm in. (kolibri)

    4. I love following the race on the computer each year and have been to the start (but not the restart) years ago. This will be a fun way to enjoy it.

    5. Just a reminder! Start counting pages from where ever you are in your book at 10 AM Saturday morning, 3 March, Alaska Standard Time (one hour behind Pacific Time).

      Do not stress trying to track your way stations! I will keep track of all of that! You just have a great time reading.

    6. My books are jumping with excitement as the time draws near.

    7. I am reading The Greater Journey Americans in Paris by David McCullough, one of my favorite authors. There are 460 pgs. in this book. I started this a.m. with the 1st chapter. Only 15pgs. Nathaneil Willis wrote " The dream of my lifetime was about to be realized, I was bound for France." Not all pioneers went west.

    8. I loved that line in McCullough's book, about how not all adventurers went west. Especially given that it was the waning days of the age of the American cowboy, and Winslow Homer was painting his poignant landscapes and a few years later James Earle Fraser (another sculptor who went to Paris) would sculpt his iconic Indian on a horse, The End of the Trail.

      I hope you love the book as much as I did, Mom!

    9. I just finished page 59. So far it is very enjoyable reading how exciting it was for these Americans to travel abroad in the 1830's. One of the humorous lines was Appleton's quote that "Good Americans when they die, go to Paris." If I ever get to go though, I will make sure it is during good weather, it sounds absolutely beautiful to walk the gardens and see the buildings.

    10. Mom, I am putting you on the chart, but you need to leave your future progress comments on the "IDITAREAD CHECKPOINTS 2012" page. If you look at the top of the blog, just below the picture of the mountain and lake with the kayak, you will see a bunch of page tabs. "IDITAREAD CHECKPOINTS 2012" is one of them. Click there and you will see what I mean. Just put your comments in there, otherwise they will get missed, as I will not think to look down here, especially after I post another review or two and this post slips further down the blog.