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Alaska Dispatch's best photos of 2012, part III: Iditarod

Rainy Pass Lodge at Puntilla Lake on Sunday, March 4.
Loren Holmes photo
A musher heads up the Happy River Steps on Monday, March 5.
Loren Holmes photo
The Iditarod's only five-time champion, Rick Swenson, crossing Rainy Pass on Monday, March 5, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Lance Mackey gets a hug from his lead dog Mayor in Nikolai on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Colleen Robertia on the phone in the Nikolai school discussing the need to drop a dog on Tuesday, March 6, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Mushers on the trail between Nikolai and McGrath. March 6, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
John Baker in Takotna on Wednesday during the 2012 Iditarod.
Loren Holmes photo
Jake Berkowitz feeds his dogs at the Takotna checkpoint on Wednesday night, March 7, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Martin Buser in Ophir on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Colleen Robertia napping with her dogs in Ophir on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
DeeDee Jonrowe arrives at the Cripple checkpoint on Thursday, March 8, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The northern lights in Ruby on Friday morning, March 9, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dallas Seavey's dogs upon reaching Unalakleet on Sunday morning, March 11, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dallas Seavey in Unalakleet on Sunday morning, March 11, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Jeff King's team stopped in the trail 12 miles before Unalakleet. King layed down in the trail to shelter his team from the wind. Sunday, March 11, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Aliy Zirkle calculates how long she can sleep at the Koyuk checkpoint early Monday morning, March 12, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dallas Seavey prepares a snack for his team before leaving the Koyuk checkpoint early Monday morning, March 12, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dallas Seavey and Aliy Zirkle chat about the race before leaving the Koyuk checkpoint on Monday morning, March 12, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
John Baker at the Koyuk checkpoint early Monday morning, March 12, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Ramey Smyth on the sea ice between Shaktoolik and Koyuk early Monday morning, March 12, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dallas Seavey leading the way to Golovin in Iditarod 2012. March 12, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Aliy Zirkle navigates the sea ice on her final push to Nome, Tuesday March 13, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dallas Seavey coming down front street in Nome to win the 2012 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, Tuesday, March 13, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

The Iditarod -- the Last Great Race. A legendary feat of endurance and teamwork, part of Alaska legend and lore. And for a photographer, a dream assignment, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel across this great state by airplane, snowmachine and sled.

The Iditarod is what brought our publisher, Alice Rogoff, to Alaska, and it was my first assignment at Alaska Dispatch. Little did I know what I was getting into. While I had mushed before, it was at a much more modest pace, 300 miles in six days. The fastest Iditarod mushers cover 1,000 miles in under 9 days.

It was a blur, a fast-paced mixture of photographing, editing, and trying to find internet access to upload photos. By the end of the race, it was a literal blur, as we adjusted our schedules to those of the sleep-deprived mushers. By the time we reached White Mountain the night had become our day. Watching Aliy Zirkle pop caffeine pills, I contemplated that myself.

But by the time we arrived on Nome's Front Street, the throngs of spectators, eager for a glimpse at the soon-to-be winner, seemed to energize us. Watching Dallas Seavey mush under the burled arch at the finish, the youngest musher in Iditarod history, was a sight I will never forget.

See Alaska Dispatch's best life photos of the year, here.

See Alaska Dispatch's best scenic photos of the year, here.

Contact photographer Loren Holmes at loren(at)alaskadispatch.com