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Published: March 5th 2017
Race start line
Here's the start line.
Today the ceremonial start of the Iditarod took place in downtown Anchorage. This is tradition and the teams start on 4th street and go 11 miles. The actual start of the race is in Willow - usually. This year parts of the trail doesn't have enough snow and they moved the start to Fairbanks (Monday, March 7th). The temperature in Fairbanks is minus 35, so I'll stay in balmy Anchorage where today's top temperature was 16!
I caught the "volunteer's" shuttle to go downtown, arriving at about 7:30 a.m. I think it was minus 2 degrees. I walked around looking at the teams. I was surprised that the dogs are small. My impression, thanks to Hollywood, is that the dogs are bigger. These dogs were so excited and ready to go. There are lots of volunteer dog handlers. They have taken a dog training course and have a certificate. Their job today was to hold back the teams until it was their turn to start. Once these dogs are in their harnesses they are ready to go! The starts are staggered every 2 minutes. The order was determined by pulling names out of a hat at the mushers banquet Thursday
One of the teams
These dogs are beautiful.
night, and this is the order they will start for the official start in Fairbanks.
The race is named after the old Iditarod Trail, a trail that was used to haul mail and freight, and bring gold out of the interior in the early 1900's. Joe Redington rediscovered parts of the trail in the 1950's, and he wanted attention for this historic trail, and to bring mushing back (snowmachines were replacing sled dogs). The first race was in 1972, and this year is the 45th race.
I've been following the race since I read a book by Libby Riddles, Race Across Alaska
. She won the race in 1985, first woman to win! For the last 5 years I've been interested in volunteering but international travel and foot & knee surgery got in the way. I'm so happy I made it this year. It was so neat to see my favorite mushers and their teams today. I found a good place to stand where the course turns from 4th Street to Cordova. They slow down a little to make the turn so it's a great place for photos. Later I moved down Cordova to the hill where there's a
Having food & getting excited.
good view also. Then I found "Booty Alley". The mushers throw the old booties out to the spectators and Booty Alley is a place where lots of spectators gather. There's was free food & drinks and I got an "adult hot chocolate". You can think about that one.
It took about 3 hours for 75 teams to go by. I met people from all over the U.S. and people from New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Spain, & Phillipines. After the last team went by I decided to go for a helicopter ride. It's so clear out that I couldn't resist.
I headed back to the Lakefront Hotel and went straight to the pub for beer and food and a chance to meet locals and other volunteers. I found out there was a gathering later tonight for the volunteers at a local restaurant. I joined them because it is a great opportunity to get to know more volunteers. One woman who lives in Mt. Baldy, CA, has a daughter in the race. This woman, the Mom, has been volunteering for 18 years!
There's lots of interesting information about the race at: http://iditarod.com/
Tomorrow I have a day off
Anyone for a carnival in zero degree weather?
so I'll probably go to a museum. The bus is $1 for seniors!
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