The Great Alaskan Race
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The Great Alaskan Race is a 2019 American action adventure drama film written and directed by Brian Presley.


  • Brian Presley
  • Treat Williams
  • Bruce Davison
  • Henry Thomas
  • Brea Bee
  • Emma Presley
  • Brad Leland
  • James Russo
  • Nolan North
  • Will Wallace


The film opens in 1917 Alaska with Leonhard Seppala winning the Sweepstakes Race for the third time in a row. However, things change for Leonhard when his wife Kiana dies after giving birth to their daughter Sigrid, leaving everything up to him.

In 1925, in Nome, Alaska a child begins to cough during a ceremony in the village church. This passes without being noticed by Dr. Welch, but when other children start coughing as well, he realizes something is wrong and decides to visit some of them. When he realizes it s diphtheria, he immediately looks for the antitoxin, but in vain. Welch then decides to warn the mayor of the town and so a quarantine is triggered for the town. All the neighboring towns try to send the serum to Nome, but the snowstorm prevents the planes from flying and the frozen sea does not allow the ships to leave. The mayor then calls all the mushers and tells them that in Nenana, the nearest town to Nome, they have the serum but that it will be necessary to create a transfer with which to get the antitoxin. Seppala initially doesn t want to leave, because Sigrid has only him in the world, but then Constance, one of the nurses at the hospital and a very important figure for Sigrid, convinces him to leave. After an extreme effort, the antitoxin finally reaches Nome, but Leonhard has no more strength and is about to die. In a dream, however, he has a vision of Kiana who tells him not to give up and to return to his daughter. Leonhard wakes up in his bed at home, ready to start living his life again and spend it with Sigrid and Constance.

Historical Accuracies between the film and actual events

In the film, Leonhard Seppala s wife and Sigrid s mother is an Inuit native woman named Kiana, whereas in reality, Seppala s wife and Sigrid s mother was really Constance. The film also portrays Constance as the church director of the children s choir, one of the nurses in Nome s small hospital, and Dr. Curtis Welch s daughter, as well as becoming Seppala s second wife and Sigrid s stepmother at the end of the film. Kiana was a fictional character made up in the film.

Just as portrayed in the film, Leonhard Seppala and his friend Gunnar Kasson both worked for the gold-mining company in Nome, as well as the fact that Seppala raised a large kennel of Siberian huskies on the sideline. Also, both the film and real events portray Togo as Leonhard s favorite lead dog.

Balto and Togo are protrayed differently in the film than in real life. In the film, Togo is a gray-and-white Siberian husky and Balto is a large black-and-white Alaskan Malamute. In reality, Togo is a mixture of black, gray, and brown in color, while Balto was a black Siberian husky with a white bib on his chest, a long white sock on his right leg, and a short white sock on his left leg.

In the film, only two children, two Inuit girls named Mary and Akina, die from the diphtheria epidemic before the antitoxin arrived. In reality, a total of seven children died from diphtheria before the epidemic was lifted, including seven-year-old Alaskan Eskimo girl Margaret Eide, three-year-old Billy Barnett, and six-year-old Inuit native girl Bessie Stanley.

Just like in the film, the relay of 20 mushers and their sled dogs did deliver 300,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin to Nome in six days. However, the antitoxin supply was a small amount and could only keep the epidemic at bay until a larger shipment arrived. What the film doesn t mention is that another 1,100,000 units of serum was gathered and shipped to Alaska, where a second relay of dog mushers and their teams picked it up and delivered it to Nome in another six days. The diphtheria epidemic was not immediately averted as is portrayed in the film, but it was finally lifted by February 15, 1925, four weeks after the epidemic had begun.

Wild Bill Shannon was the first musher in the first relay to pick up the serum in Nenana, but he did not arrive in Whiskey Creek as the film portrays. He did pass off the life-saving serum to Dan Green in Tolovana, after travelling more than 50 miles through a freezing Arctic storm and losing four of his nine sled dogs in the process. Dan Green drove his team of sled dogs from Tolovana to Manley Hot Springs, where he passed the antitoxin off to the third musher in the relay, Johnny Folger. Charlie Evans, the twelfth musher in the relay, received the serum in Bishop Mountain from the previous musher George Nollner and carried it thirty miles down to Nulato, losing his two lead dogs in the process to the bitter cold.

Leonhard Seppala and Gunnar Kasson did not meet the last fifty miles of the journey nor did Seppala pass the serum over to Gunnar. After carrying the life-saving serum more than ninety miles from Shartoolik and crossed the treacherous Norton Sound, Seppala arrived in Ungalik and passed the antitoxin over to Charlie Olsen, who carried it twenty miles from Ungalik to Bluff. Charlie then passed the medicine over to Gunnar Kasson, who carried it the last fifty-three miles from Bluff to Nome.

In the film, Leonhard Seppala s team of dogs consisted of seven dogs and Gunnar Kasson s team numbered eight dogs. In reality, Seppala s team numbered thirteen Siberian huskies with Togo as lead dog and a second dog, Fritz, as co-leader alongside Togo. Gunnar s team also numbered thirteen huskies from Seppala s kennel and his lead dogs were Balto and a brown-and-gray husky named Fox.

The film omitted two important events in Gunnar Kasson s and Balto s journey from Bluff to Nome. The first event was that during the start of the journey, Gunnar s sled tipped over against the strong Arctic winds and dumped the serum into a deep drift of snow. Kasson dug through the snow, retrieved the serum, and reattached it to the sled again before continuing on his way. The second event occurred when Gunnar and his dog team arrived in Point Safety, where the serum was supposed to be handed over to the last musher of the relay, Ed Rohn. But Ed Rohn, believing that Gunnar was not going to make it through the blizzard, had fallen asleep and left his dogs unharnessed and locked up in the barn. Gunnar had no choice but to continue on his journey to Nome, where at 5:30 am in the morning of February 1, he and his dogs arrived in Nome with the life-saving serum.


The film was released in theaters on October 25, 2019.


Tara McNamara of Common Sense Media awarded the film two stars out of five. Bobby LePire of Film Threat gave it a five out of ten.

Year 2019
ReleaseDate 2019-10-25
RuntimeMins 87
RuntimeStr 1h 27min
Plot In 1925’s historic great race of mercy, a group of brave mushers travel 700 miles to save the small children of Nome, Alaska from a deadly epidemic.
Directors Brian Presley
Writers Brian Presley
Stars Brian Presley, Treat Williams, Brad Leland
Produced by Jacquelin Arroyo,Jose Pablo Cantillo,Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh,Mark David,Semih Eren,Sean Leigh Hart,Lisa Kearns,Brian Presley,Christian Sosa,Thomas Tamburello,Will Wallace,Jon Wroblewski
Music by John Koutselinis
Cinematography by Mark David
Film Editing by Mark David,Gabriel Ordonez,Brian Presley
Casting By Melissa Wulfemeyer-Valenzuela
Production Design by Jena Serbu
Costume Design by Rebecca Bertot
Makeup Department Katie Jacobs,Kari Yaskoweak
Production Management Olivia Oppenheim
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director Mark David,Rachel Svatos,Chris Warren
Art Department Heather Blum,Mark Dahl,Dylan Hammill
Sound Department Emily Jira,Ryan D. Richardson,William Tabanou,Ryan Villarreal
Visual Effects by Damon Ervin,Erik Goldsby,Sean Leigh Hart,Jim Hawkins,Don Mccoy,John Pierce,Devyn Reggio,Peter ‘Bob’ White
Camera and Electrical Department Mark David,Philip Dossey,Brandon Klock,Roberto Litvinchuk,Antoine Martin,Barry Strickland,Rachel Svatos,Andrey Valentsov,Ken Whiting
Costume and Wardrobe Department Shanell Scott
Editorial Department Diego Alex Borghello,Chris Bredesen,Mike Dillard,Eric M. Klein,Matthew J. McLaren
Location Management Bruce Conrad,Colin Scott
Music Department The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra,Melany Dantes-Mortimer,Marek Elznic,James Fitzpatrick,Jan Holzner,Rebecca Joelle,Stefan Karrer,Adam Klemens,Lucie Svehlova,Steve Wallace
Script and Continuity Department Brittany Miles
Transportation Department Alex E. Buckner
Additional Crew Michael Darling,Cyprian Francis,Chase Friedman,Elizabeth Redpath,Eli Revivo,David Roberson,Nancy Sanchez,Gracie Strawn
Genres Action, Adventure, Drama
Companies Rebel Road Entertainment
Countries USA
Languages English
ContentRating PG
ImDbRating 5.3
ImDbRatingVotes 588
MetacriticRating 29
Keywords children,timeframe 1920s