Post race

January - March 2003

The 7th of january 2003 Ararad Khatchikian - the only Italian / Armenian by origin " musher " ( sled dogs driver ) who partecipated to all the most important sleddog / mushing Races on Earth, his female lead dog Megh ( number " one " in Armenian ) and a second male lead dog - Ciòrs ( number 4 in Armenian ) left towards Alaska where from the 16th of february to the mid of march they travelled over again - with other 10 Alaskan Husky dogs in the team - the legendary more than 600 miles long trail run by Balto in 1925 from the City of Nenana - the last town reachable by train - to the City of Nome, on the Bering Sea.

Back in 1925 Balto, heroic half breed dog celebrated also in the homonym cartoon movie by Steven Spielberg, covered at a record pace with other extraordinaire four legged " colleagues" , part of the 674 miles long snowy and icy trail which separated the Inuit children in Nome from salvation. A terrible epidemic of diphteria spread out in that town and thousand of children were in danger of life if the diphteria antitoxin , the medicine necessary for recovery, wouldn't had arrived in time. A relay of 20 dog mushers who were working as mail carriers between the villages situated on that route, with their exceptional dogs, covered the total distance of 674 miles, in the record time of 128 hours. A bit more than 5 days to perform an extraordinaire act of solidarity between men and animals which permitted the salvation of many innocent creatures.

Ararad and Megh - a foundling half breed with incredible intelligence, endurance and generosity - repeated that legendary challenge to remind everybody the fact that the deep and exclusive relation which binds each musher to his / her dogs, particularly to the lead dog, can produce miracles. A message that the City of New York picked up, placing a statue representing Balto in the Central Park and that the International Sport celebrates since 1973 with the IDITAROD, the most important sleddog Race on Earth which takes place every year in march from Anchorage to Nome on a 1165 miles trail which uses, in its second half, the mythical trail of the " Serum Run " of Balto. " The Last Great Race on Earth ", as it is called the IDITAROD is a tribute to the epic and glorious Alaska's past.

Today the Sleddog or Mushing Sport, the run with a sled pulled by dogs, is very widespread also in Italy. It's an activity which allows the dogs and the musher, who pushes and drives the sled with great ability, to practice a healthy physical exercise in contact with the most wild nature and with total respect and harmony for it. Since 1985 Ararad Khatchikian - only Italian ( with his brother Armen who introduced him to this " all nature " sport ) who participated successfully to the IDITAROD in 1996, the Yukon Quest in 2000 and to the major international sleddog races, in his International Mushing School of Tarvisio - Fusine ( Udine ), with his wife Monica - their 40 sled dogs and his staff, teaches to adults and children this unique sport which gives unrepeatable emotions. 120 children of the Elementary School in Tarvisio's Borough, are the only ones in Italy who take regularly in winter time and during School time, sleddog sport lessons instead of doing Gym.