FARMINGTON — It’s a lesson about setting goals, teamwork and perseverance as 300 readers at W.G. Mallett School competed in the school’s 16th annual Iditaread this month.

Several awards were presented as students, teachers and parents assembled Monday morning to celebrate the accomplishments. First-graders read almost 3,000 books while second- and third-grade teams read a total of 27,000 minutes in nine days.

They followed the mushers and dog teams from the 42nd Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, a 1,000 mile run from Willow to Nome, Alaska. The feat was completed by Dallas Seavey in 8 days, 13 hours and 4 minutes and 19 seconds, School Librarian Betsy Turcotte said. 

The dog race began the first weekend of March.

The reader pups at Mallett started March 3. Their goal was to reach team strides. A stride for first-graders was reading one book, for second-graders reading 20 minutes and for third-graders, 30 minutes, she said. The number on each team was the number of strides needed to advance, she added.

The reading competition parallels the dog race, she said. Sometimes, there’s a blizzard that slows the teams down or a mandatory rest.


The Mallett School teachers had a team with art teacher Kim Jacques contributing 2,635 minutes of reading.

This was the 16th annual Iditaread at Mallett and the last one for the librarian. Turcotte intends to retire at the end of the school year after working 17 years at Mallett School.

She started the Iditaread when an education technician, Lynne Hunter, told her about a school in Alaska that ran a reading race to correspond with the Iditarod.

“We thought it would be fun to do the same thing here,” she said.

The students also learned about the 1925 Serum run when 20 Alaskan mushers and their dogs carried diphtheria serum from Anchorage to Nome, she said.

During the epidemic, children were dying and the only antitoxin was in Anchorage, 1000 miles away. Dog sled was the most sure way to get the antitoxin to them, in what was called the “Great Race of Mercy,” according to online articles.

Nearly 50 years later, in 1973, the first Iditarod race was held to remember and honor the mushers and dogs, Turcotte said.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.