The Great Mercy Race

Posted on March 20, 2016

Couriers in Boston from FleetFor years the importance of medical courier services has been known. Today the ability of having same day delivery in Boston has been a blessing. With so many medical needs the future of medical couriers is bright as they strive to deliver life-saving medicine. There is little that can keep couriers from doing their job today. With reliable transportation and tracking many times you can get your package delivered the same day with local couriers. However, in 1925, Nome, Alaska faced a very different circumstance.

The Iditarod is the largest sled dog race in the world. The mushers and dogs need to travel 975 miles from Anchorage to Nome. This is considered one of the greatest feats that an individual can accomplish in their lifetime. Starting on March 5th this year, the Iditarod is “The Last Great Race” and commemorates the accomplishments of a sled dogs from the past.

In 1925, Nome, Alaska was suffering. Children were coming down with diphtheria. Diphtheria is a bacterial infection that will affect the mucus membranes in your nose and throat. Many times the biggest sign is a gray material that will cover the back of your throat which makes it difficult to breathe. When this epidemic hit Nome, Dr. Curtis Welch, the only physician in the village of 1400 individuals ordered a quarantine. The only way that the village would last is if they got an antitoxin serum. This serum was in Anchorage, nearly 1000 miles away.

Normally the pilot would handle the task, however the only pilot, Carl Ben Eielson, that would be crazy enough to handle the unpredictable weather at the time was on a trip to the lower 48. Rather than relying on Pony Express. A sled dog relay was assembled. Known as “The Great Mercy Race”, over 150 dogs and 20 mushers assembled together to deliver the serum from Anchorage to Nome.

Each village along the way offered their best team for the certain legs of the relay. This would ensure that the serum made it to Nome as quickly as possible. With mushers riding through the night, two of the best known dogs were Togo and Balto. Togo and his musher Leonhard Seppala ran the “critical leg across the treacherous Norton Sound ice from Shaktoolik to Golovin”. The final two legs were ran by Balto and his musher Gunnar Kaasen. The musher for the final leg was not ready when Kaasen reached the village so he ran the final leg in a blizzard hailing 80 mile per hour winds.

Covering nearly 700 miles in 6 days, the teams faced temperatures that averaged around 40 below zero. The serum made it to Nome in time and the people of Nome were out of quarantine. With statues of Togo and Balto at Iditarod headquarters, the race was the greatest feat for Sled Dogs and medical delivery in the last century. Medical couriers, in the forms of mushers saved a whole town.

With the yearly Iditarod, we can remember the greatest feat in medical delivery. Today medical couriers don’t need to worry about mushing from place to place to deliver their medical supplies. Medical couriers in Boston only need to worry about rush hour traffic. Thankfully Fleet Couriers is here to help when you need a medical courier for speedy service. Give us a call, we can deliver what you need without the worry of below freezing temperatures or absolute quarantine.