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81 – Leonhard, Togo, and the Great Race of Mercy Part I: Dog Country

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In January of 1925, an epidemic of diphtheria threatened to destroy the very small, very isolated town of Nome, Alaska. Diphtheria is straight up horrifying. And without any antitoxin and completely cut off from the rest of civilization, Nome’s only hope was to transport diphtheria serum in a 674 mile relay by dogsled drivers through -80 degree temperatures, blizzards, and pounding winds in a matter of days. The team Nome relied on for the heaviest lifting on this relay was that of a 5’4″ Norwegian immigrant named Leonhard Seppala and his 12 year old lead husky Togo, together the most legendary partnership in the history of the dogsled. This story has been told a few times, across a few different types of media but its usually told as a children’s story. It’s really not a children’s story. Northern Alaska is a brutal, often frightening place. And in part one we tell the very stupid story of how Nome, Alaska came to be, how Leonhard Seppala arrived there, and how Togo came to be known as the greatest lead dog in history. 


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