Last Sunday, nearly 70 mushers from around the globe and their teams of canine athletes set off on Alaska’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. They departed from a frozen lake in Anchorage to bound across 1,000 miles of tundra, through mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dark forests, and sub-zero temperatures. The Iditarod, an annual tradition since 1973, bills itself as the “Last Great Race on Earth.”
Jeff Schultz has what’s possibly one of the world’s funnest jobs: He’s been the Iditarod’s official photographer since 1982. In his new coffee-table book, Chasing Dogs, Schultz has selected 200 of his nearly 50,000 images of the event to release to the public. “For years, I’ve dreamed of producing a book that shows the race just the way I’ve seen it,” he says in a video promoting the book, currently being funded on Kickstarter.
The way he’s seen it is stunning: from snowmobiles, from helicopters, or right up in dogs’ snouts. Blue-eyed huskies bearded with ice mush running fiercely in neon booties, tongues flailing wildly. Green aurora borealis and sherbet-colored sunsets are the backdrop for this festival of Olympian canines. In aerial shots snapped from helicopters flying through narrow canyons, the racers are mere specks on treacherous mountain faces. Schultz himself was nearly killed in a terrible helicopter crash in a narrow canyon in 1992 but still photographs the race from the air annually–a remarkable testament to his love of the event.