The Ceremonial Start, Anchorage

The Ceremonial Start

The temperature is right at zero this morning.  Clear skies, no winds.  The silhouette of the Chugach Mountains that overlook

Will Peterson

Will Peterson

 Anchorage is crisp in the pre-dawn light.  It should be a beautiful day to run a dog team through Anchorage.  The municipality has trucked in snow to lay down on the streets for the teams.  The truckers and graders have been at it all night.  The dog teams are required to be down town by 8am.  It is quiet at this hour but that is going to change quickly this morning.  The crowd will gather soon, the dogs will sense that this is a different kind of day and the energy will spread.  The fans, the mushers, and the dogs will all be ready to have this day get underway.

Friday was an off day.  Veteran Iditarod mushers relax with family, friends and sponsors. I went to a private reception for 3 mushers last night.  Good food, better wine, and loud conversation.  Maybe 75 people were crowded into the back room of a local restaurant.  The 3 mushers were off by themselves, talking about dogs with each other.  The rest of the crowd was talking business.  This was a gathering of big shots in the oil and gas industry and the mushers are too focused on their dogs and the race to have any interest in the real world.

The rookies are nervous, the years of preparation are almost over but the rookies don’t know what all the questions are so they certainly don’t have all of the answers.  They’ve got their lists, and they’ve been checking them over but some of this really is a mystery.  Today’s run through town should be fun; there should be no big incidents or accidents.  The occasional moose on the trails might interfere with a team or two but with thousands of fans line the course today, help is everywhere.  This will be a great day in Anchorage…and in Alaska.

 

Things you might want to know

  • The out of state visitors have been spending lots of money in town at clothing stores.  The clothes that keep them warm in most places won’t work here so the outdoor clothes stores are packed.
  • On Friday the Iditarod Trail Committee flew race volunteers out to the first few checkpoints, Yentna, Skwentna, Finger Lake, Rainy Pass, and Rohn.  Checkers, veterinarians, communications staff, and others were stuffed in planes owned and operated by the volunteers of the Iditarod Air Force.
  • The Iditarod Air force has spent the past two weeks flying out the dog food and checkpoint supplies to the designated checkpoints.  Hundreds of thousands of pounds of supplies have been delivered in small ski planes.  Almost everything is in place.
  • This might be a perfect day to start the Iditarod
  • 1 team at a time, every two minutes…Dee Dee Jonrowe goes first.  Rookie Justin Savidis goes out last.