Friday, March 26, 2010

The Last Great Race- Saturday Ceremonial Start

A few weekends ago was the start of the Iditarod (#23 on the list). It was a big event 'round these parts. Lots of tourists. You can always tell the tourists because they are either 1. lacking appropriate cold weather clothing or 2. wearing brand new winter apparel, like they just had an REI shopping spree.

It is also so interesting that they call the Iditarod the "Last Great Race". It is 1,049 miles long. Another race, the Yukon Quest, is approximately 1,000 miles long. So, about the same distance. It is also important to know that the exact mileage changes each year because the route may change slightly. The Iditarod also has a Northern and a Southern route. During even numbered years, the mushers follow the Northern route and during odd-numbered years, they follow the Southern route.

On Saturday, there is a ceremonial start in Anchorage where the mushers ride only about 20 miles. The dogs that they use during this ceremonial start are not the same dogs that they will be using on the actual Iditarod trail. They just cannot risk their dogs getting hurt while they are basically just showing off for everyone who comes downtown to see them. All of the mushers have what is called an "Idita-rider" in their sled with them. Basically, this is a person who pays a lot of money to get to ride with the musher during the ceremonial start.

Lance Mackey and his Idita-Rider.

We actually showed up 2 hours before the start, so we could secure a spot of our choice right next to the starting line. We were actually standing right in front of where the news cameras were. The reporter interviewed the woman standing on the other side of Steven and some friends said they saw him on TV!! Steven was excited that we has finally reached celebrity status in Anchorage!!

There were many different people from many different places that were participating in this years race. There was someone from Jamaica, someone from Scotland (who wore a kilt while on his sled and had his dogs dressed out in plaid tartans), and a veteran named DeeDee Jonrowe who is a breast cancer survivor and almost 60 years old!! She had all of her dogs wearing pink little booties to keep the snow off of their feet. We were also cheering for Aliy Zirkle's team. On Friday night, we were coming out of the restaurant and at the hotel that is next door, people were getting their pictures made with the dogs. Although it is a little blurry, here is a picture of Steven and I with some real sled dogs!!!

Her team's Kennel has a website with lots of videos and information regarding dog mushing!! Check it out! It is a great educational resource for anyone wanting to learn about sled dogs!!

I want to leave you with a few more pictures from the ceremonial Iditarod start in Anchorage, Alaska!! Stay tuned for pictures from the official re-start in Willow, Alaska.

Scottish pups and Scottish musher.


1 comment:

  1. I love to hear and read all about your adventures.
    You both look like you are having a good time.