OK. Yesterday was actually the ceremonial start, the actual Iditarod – greatest sled dog race in the known universe – beginning tomorrow. Meanwhile, here’s the first of our overnight reports from Rebecca, CEO of Snowhook Kennel, our team in the race. Below is a picture of musher AJ with star dogs Chet and Bernie (yes!) and one of Bernie alone, wearing an outfit reflective of Hawaiian pants (readers of the series will get the reference. For non-readers of the series, here’s a reason to plunge in.)
Most people sleep in on Saturdays, but not us. Not this Saturday. The work day came early after working late into the night to complete a long list of must-be-dones. We awoke to five inches of heavy, wet snow slushing form the sky. Having loaded up the dogs, we fishtailed our way on the highway until the snow turned to rain as we neared Anchorage for the Ceremonial Start.
It gets quite busy right before the race, and then it gets even busier with race requirements and race festivities. The Ceremonial Start, where teams travel eleven miles through the city streets greeted and cheered by spectators and fans is similar. There is down time, some socializing, photos, official race tasks of verifying dogs, and then it gets very busy, very quick. In a matter of minutes, AJ and I harnessed the dogs, bootied each paw, hooked the team to the line, and waited for a race official to countdown our path to the starting line, “Savidis, two minutes.”
Five…four…three…two…one! The starting line held the best snow we would see during the ceremonial stretch. Warm temperatures and rain turned the trail into less than suitable for mushing. It was a slog. We expected patches of pavement. We expected correctly. We anticipated stopping the team a lot to give them a break from the warm temperatures. We stayed true to our plan. We guessed there might be some slush on the trail. We only get partial marks for that guess. Yes, there was slush, but we had no idea we would be dumping water out of our boots at the end of the run. With some puddles deeper than our boots are high, we returned home waterlogged.
As we prepare to leave for Fairbanks—the location of this year’s restart, we have added drying out gear to that list of must-be-dones. Due to the change in the race course this year, Sunday serves as a travel day so mushers can transport their teams to Fairbanks. Tomorrow will be another long day in a string of long days.
The restart will be held on Monday morning at 10:00.
Both AJ and I want to say a special thank you to the Plunderers who are traveled to cheer for AJ and the dogs (and have given a go at handling) as well as those of you cheering us on in spirit. We are honored to be called ‘your team,’ and hope to make you proud. Thank you for your continued support and friendship.
This entry was posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2015 at 9:13 am and is filed under Chet The Dog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.