Sub-Saharan Iditarod

Sub-Saharan Iditarod by Mark Gilkey is available on amazon as a Kindle ebook.


As a severely ill truck driver lies in a hospital bed in Africa, an untested 3-man team struggles to stop the epidemic that  the driver has unwittingly spread.

Carrying a new vaccine into remote villages spread across the African plain, and overcoming obstacles generated by both man and nature, can the team save the lives of others — as well as their own — before it’s too late?

Inspiration for the story “Sub-Saharan Iditarod”:

This book was inspired partly by the work of Professor of Economics David I. Levine and others on health projects in Less-Developed Countries.  Dr. Levine and his students have worked on issues such as:
* cleaner water
* prevention of diseases such as malaria
* more efficient stoves, which reduce wood consumption and therefore reduce deforestation
* early detection of eye problems.

In order to encourage good health habits, Dr. Levine and his team have worked on not only the economics and technology of good health, but on games and songs and stories that encourage healthy habits.
For information about some of these projects, see

The book was also very loosely inspired by a famous historical event: the Serum Run To Nome.  In the winter of 1925, an epidemic of diphtheria was growing in Nome, Alaska. In 1925, there were only two possible way to deliver supplies to Nome in the winter: via a dog-sledding trail named the Iditarod Trail, or by aircraft.  The weather was bad, and the available aircraft were primitive and were unreliable in very cold temperatures.  Furthermore, the available supply of diphtheria anti-toxin was very limited.  If the delivery airplane were to crash, the anti-toxin could have been destroyed, and there would have been no second chance to try again to deliver it by the only other possible method: dogsled.  In a difficult decision, Alaskan officials chose to deliver the anti-toxin by a “relay race” of dogsled teams, coordinated by radio communications.  An extraordinary group of sled dogs and drivers (called “mushers”) carried the anti-toxin hundreds of miles. More information about their heroism can be found at:

Today, the name “Iditarod” is probably best known as the name of an Alaskan dogsled race.  The modern race was itself inspired by the serum run to Nome, and the route of the modern race partly overlaps the historic Iditarod trail used in the original serum run.

Hippos kill more people than lions:

“Although accurate numbers are hard to come by, lore has it that hippos kill more people each year than lions, elephants, leopards, buffaloes and rhinos combined.”

Flint and Steel for starting a fire:

For information about using flint and steel to start a fire, see: For your safety, please do not actually try to set gasoline on fire inside a tent or any other enclosed area. To experiment with a flint and steel, use a proper fire pit such as you might find at a campsite, and make sure that wind and weather will not cause problems.