01/08/2014 04:51 EST | Updated 03/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Iditarod signs deal with Sportsman Channel, returns to TV after 5-year absence

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race will again have a presence on national television.

Race organizers Wednesday announced they have signed a deal with the Sportsman Channel, making it the official network of the nearly 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome.

The Iditarod hasn't had a network deal since 2009.

Gavin Harvey, the cable channel's CEO, says they hope to reach race fans, and return some of them to the Iditarod. Along the way, he says maybe they can create a whole new generation of fans.

The channel plans two weeks of "Iditarod Unleashed" programming beginning March 24. That's about two weeks after the 2014 race.

The shows will recap this year's race, and feature stories on dogs, mushers, the Alaska wilderness and history of the race.