Leonhard Seppala (September 14, 1877 – January 28, 1967) was a Norwegian dog breeder and musher. He was one of the most important participants of the Great Race of Mercy. As he covered along his dog Togo one of the most dangerous parts of the road.


Seppala was born in the village of Skibotn. He was the oldest-born child of father Isak Isaksson Seppälä and Anne Henriksdatter. His family moved to Skjervøy when he was 2 years old. Leonhard's father was a blacksmith and fisher there, iniatially he followed his steps, but then, Seppala's friend Jafet Lindeberg convinced him to travel to Alaska during the Gold Rush.

In Alaska, Seppala became a dogsled driver for Lindeberg's company. He enjoyed the task so much. While most drivers considered 30 miles (48 km) a long run, Seppala traveled between 50 miles (80 km) and 100 miles (160 km) most days.

Racing career

In 1913, Seppala inherited his first team of sled dogs by chance. Lindeberg brought the puppies from Siberia as a gift for the famous explorer Roald Amundsen. Hoping he would use them for his upcoming travel to the North Pole.

However, Amundsen cancelled the trip and Seppala can take charge of that dogs. Leonhard competed in his first race at 1914 All-Alaska Sweepstakes. Where after getting lost and almost losing their lifespan, he felt that he abused the loyalty of the team and retired ashamed.

At the 1915 All Alaska Sweepstakes. After a close competition between him and experienced musher Scotty Allan, Sappala overcame him once and for all on the fourth day of the race. He finished two hours ahead of Allan, winning the race. He went on to win the race the following two years, as well, at which point the All Alaska Sweepstakes was suspended.

Nome serum run

In 1925, the diphteria outbreak appeared, the only treatment available was diphtheria antitoxin serum.

However, the town's supply was not only insufficient but also of presumably low efficacy, having recently expired.

The only practical way to deliver more serum to Nome in the middle of the coldest winter in 20 years was by dog sled. A relay of respected mushers was organized to expedite the delivery,

Seppala was chosen for one the most forbidding sections of the trail

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