Category Archives: Automation

Determining Winner by Shortest Elapsed Time to Nome

The winner of the real Iditarod Sled Dog Race is the first team to Nome. Since each team leaves the starting line at different times, the staggered start is equalized by corrections elsewhere on the trail.

The IditaType™ Race teams likewise do not start at the same time; they don’t even start on the same day. Additionally, due to holidays and other schedule disruptions, grade levels may not have the same number of class meeting each week.

To equalize the differences, the Race Marshall will log actual time spent working by each team with the Racing Time Google sheet shown above.  In this way, the shortest elapsed time working among all the grade levels will determine the first team to Nome.

Easy Implementation of IditaType™

Your most efficient implementation of this project is for me to provide all the daily trail positions for your typing test data.

The project is scalable, so teachers can start with the basics; the 14 one-minute typing tests through Teachers create an account (free), then add their students to the class.

Teachers establish minimum accuracy standards. Students have to have 14 tests at or above the standard. I use 90% accuracy for my 3rd through 6th grade classes.

Students do all the tests in one class session. Teachers export the results from the Reports page and email the file to me.  I’ll run the data through my macros and build two evenly matched teams, then turn their tests into 14 days of Iditarod trail progress. I’ll return the results as PDF’s and they can take it from there, as much as they are comfortable with. I’ll charge a nominal fee, say a buck per student.

The Trail Time and Resting Time Calculator

The Trail Time and Resting Time Calculator can be found through the Idita-Type 2016 article in the Musher section. It is a simple Google Sheets page that the Mushers use to find out important information for the Trail Log.

Mushers enter the number of miles their team traveled in a day. The spreadsheet divides that number by an average rate of 5 mph to determine the number of running hours. The resting time is the difference between a 24 hour day and the number of running hours on the trail.

Iditarod Typing Race: Preparing for Drama

If you’ve used the Excel workbook macros to generate teams, forward progress is going to be closely matched throughout the race.  At some point, one of the teams is going to win and one is going to come in second.  Making it all of the way to Nome in this project is an accomplishment in itself, so the students will need to be prepared ahead of time for the dynamics of a competitive atmosphere in the computer lab. Good sportsmanship opportunities will abound.

For the 2016 race, I’ve pre-plotted the positions for each day’s run. For one of my classes, a team that led most of the race falls short of the finish line by three miles.  This happened because one of the particularly good typists failed to complete 14 days of 95% or better one-minute tests.  I will be discussing this with the musher during the race and offering a solution.

The aforementioned student will have to leave the team during the race and complete at least one more timed typing test. I’ve included an Additional Mile calculator on the Rate sheet to determine exactly the minimum wpm needed to get the team across the finish line. Nobody fails or quits three miles from the finish.

Iditarod Typing Race: Race Day Events


Setup: Race Marshal uses three terminals: one for Team 1, one for Team 2, and one for the Race Marshal’s predetermined team positions for each day of the race.

  1. All students gather in the instructional area for briefing.
  2. Display seating assignments as per Team Profile sheets.
  3. Review Team Position Roles and display Documents
    • Trail Log: Hard-copy to Wheels to Musher and through the Team to Lead
    • Excel Workbook: in Musher’s Google Drive
    • Official Google Map: Lead’s Google My Maps; editing privileges with whole team.
  4. Explain and demonstrate: Using the Ruler tool in Google Maps to measure exact distance from the last checkpoint. Display and use both teams’ actual numbers to show pins for Day 1. Wheels record data on Trail Log.
  5. Explain and demonstrate: Team members adding pins with text and photos to the shared map.
  6. Explain that once Musher okays Lead’s position on the map, Musher brings Trail Log to Race Marshal for approval.
  7. Explain that Race Marshal compares Team’s Google Map position  with Race Marshal’s own map. If they match, Race Marshal will release the data for Day 2, and so on throughout the race.


Race Marshal gives 10 second countdown.  Team members disperse to positions and begin. Race Marshal displays timer.


First team to Nome wins. Prizes to be determined.

Iditarod Typing Team Profiles

Once the students have completed the fourteen typing tests and have run the team generation macros, put that information into the Race Marshall’s official Race Workbook.

You will then be able to compare the two teams and adjust the workbook rate so that both teams will complete the course in fourteen days.

The race profile chart provides fascinating info on how the team performs over the trail.

Screen shot 2016-03-04 at 9.09.28 AM
Click for a larger view of a 3rd grade team’s performance.

Iditarod Typing Race: Teacher Preparation for Race Day

In order to be able to quickly verify that the Leads have accurately pinned the location of each day’s run, the Race Marshal needs to know where those locations are and be able to instantly compare the team’s map with the correct locations.

The Race Marshal transfers numbers from the Team 1 and Team 2 sheets one day at a time, consults the Trail Position sheet for the exact mileage passed the last checkpoint, and pins it on the Race Marshal’s Google Map.

On Race Day, the Race Marshal will use three computer terminals: one for Team 1’s Google Map, one for the Race Marshal’s Google Map, and one for Team 2’s map.

When the Musher brings the Trail Log from the Leads to the Race Marshal, the Marshal will be able to instantly compare the position that the Lead pinned with that of the official position. If the Team position matches the Race Marshal’s map, the Race Marshal will release the next day’s data to the Wheels.