You may be wondering why I began my blog with a Journal which is two years old. Well, this is the week the Iditarod starts – the Start is on Saturday March 7 in Anchorage and I am getting in to my 3 weeks of living in front of my computer screen, following every nuance of the race and taking part in at least 3 Yahoo groups and at least one Forum…all focused on 1149 miles across Alaska.
The immersion has already begun – the Idita-Support Group is beginning to arrive in Anchorage – friends are flying in from around the country while the members who live there are keeping all of us up to the minute of the happenings which fill each day this week. I am re-living vicariously each and every event. The Vet Checks, the Musher’s Banquet, the Musher’s meeting at the Millennium, the Open houses, the start and then the restart – and the Group’s Dinner at Gwinnies.
Trying to get all the stories – who is riding in the tag-sleds for the Start in Anchorage – what dogs do the mushers have hitched that day – and which dogs are going to be on the team for Sunday’s Re-start.
Chasing down more information from comments dropped such as “they pulled the plug on the Serum Run at Ruby because of trail conditions – too much snow”. How will that affect the trail out of Ruby for the rod? What ARE the trail conditions? The temps? How will that affect each team. Does the cold and snow conditions give an extra edge to the mushers from Kotzebue? How will the Rookies adjust – at least they have had a lot of cold and snow to race and train in this year.
One of things I love about Sled Dog Racing and this race in particular is that is it an equal opportunity event. Men and women race heads up – there are no ‘Lady’s Tees” in mushing – and the race is not always against the other mushers and their teams - but to continue on the trail because of a dream.
As of today, there are 67 Mushers ready to start – maybe 20 have a snowball’s chance of winning and of those the winner most likely will come out of a group of maybe a half dozen. The real Iditarod for me is with those 40 or so mushers who are there and know they have not a chance of winning – if reaching Nome first is winning – but for many of them just reaching Nome with a healthy team is a win, no matter where they place in the finish results.
The trip itself is the challenge. One person and 16 dogs facing the best and worst the Alaska bush and Mother Nature can throw at them – and overcoming…That is the Iditarod. As I have told friends who do not understand WHY someone would do this – “If you have to ask WHY, you will never get it.” It is the Dream – the same Dream our ancestors had when they left the country where they were born to start life on a new continent – the same Dream which lead the Pioneers to walk across the prairies to settle in a remote part of this country ... the same Dream which each of us has had, to face the unknown because, well because we had a Dream.
Basically all those technical things which glaze over the eyes of my friends and family but are totally understood by those of us who are died in the wool (or maybe I should say Fleece) Idita-Nuts.
Thank goodness for the Internet – not too long ago the only way to follow the race was to phone the Iditarod Trail Committee’s phone room to get up dates. Now, phone calls are usually made when I know someone who is working the Phone Room in the middle of the night. I am SO glad that my cell phone service has free nationwide long distance and AT&T knows that Alaska is part of the nation.
So basically the next couple of weeks will be focused on Alaska – but who knows what else will pop up that I will feel the need to share.
As one of my favorite mushers has as his signature line –
Keep ‘Em Northbound
Book Signing of Ol' Iditarod Gang
2 years ago