Well, here we are the night before the Start. Amazing, it sure doesn’t seem like a year has past since the last time. The butterflies are flying around just like last year. I can’t decide whether I’m nervous or excited – must be a combination of both!
Yesterday was the Mushers' Meeting and Mushers' Banquet. Neither had too many surprises. It was a lot of fun to catch up with friends that I haven’t seen in awhile. The different Iditarod ‘Presenting’ sponsors had lots of cool stuff for the mushers – things like Windstopper vests and neat ballcaps that said ‘Official Musher’ on them from Cabelas, first aid kits from Providence Health Care, and bandannas and mini flashlights from Alaska Dodge Dealers. Sort of like Christmas!
Iditarod officials had maps and tons of information about the start, restart, rules, procedures, and the trail itself. The trail is reported to be anywhere from ‘10 feet of snow’ in Rainy Pass to ‘bare dirt and rocks’ in spots on the southern route. The phrases ‘open water’, and ‘the best we could do’ were often used. The trail between Shaktoolik and Koyuk has had to be re-routed along the shoreline, adding 6 to 8 miles to that leg, because Norton Sound has not frozen up this winter. I have faith that the Iditarod will put in the best trail possible for us and I’m just going to follow the markers all the way to Nome!
The Mushers' Banquet was a lot of fun. A group of friends from the Bay Area Siberian Husky Club have come up for the start. It was great to get to see them again – although I was bouncing up and down away from my seat long enough that we didn’t really get much of a chance to visit.
I drew Bib #40 – a number I’m pretty happy with. I’m kind of surrounded by a bunch of the ‘big’ names – Doug Swingley is a couple ahead of us, Dee Dee Jonrowe, Rick Swenson and Rick Mackey are a few right behind us! Probably position us just right for the TV coverage to go to a commercial break when I show up in the chute. J For those of you interested in watching the start, I’m told that the Iditarod has a live computer feed on their website at www.iditarod.com. The action gets underway at 10am and I should be heading off somewhere around 11:20.
This morning, with a little last minute advice from Jamie Nelson (via the phone), I got the final cuts made on the team. They will be (in no particular order) –
- NorthWapiti’s Guy Smiley
- NorthWapiti’s Super Grover
- NorthWapiti’s Mr. Snuffleupagus ‘Gus’
- NorthWapiti’s Orion the Hunter
- NorthWapiti’s Draco
- Chuchinka’s Nicolai II ‘Nik’
- Wetaskiwin’s Sir Gallahad ‘Surge’
- Tumnatski's Bosun NorthWapiti 'Striker'
- Ch. NorthWapiti’s Oreo
- Hawk’s NorthWapiti Vindicator ‘Jake’
- Chuchinka’s San Antonio Rose ‘Kaylinn’
- NorthWapiti’s Camilla
- Ch. Kainai’s Anchorman ‘Mannie’
- The Flying Nun of NorthWapiti ‘Sissy’
- Chuchinka’s Pathfinder ‘Chester'
- NorthWapiti's Butch Cassidy SD
This is a strong group of dogs that I’m proud to be driving. I think they have the heads and the attitudes this year that we need to get to Nome. We are all confident, focused and ready!
The ceremonial start has been shortened to 11 miles and we will be using teams of 10 dogs (instead of the usual 30 miles and 12 dogs). Tomorrow’s group will be:
- Chuchinka's Raptor
Well, I’m signing off until after the Race. Mark will be keeping the diary up to date and we will post a list of other places on the ‘net to keep track of things in the next day or so.
I hope I do a good enough job with this diary that I somewhat convey just how lucky and honored I feel to get the opportunity to run Iditarod. This is an amazing event and I am so thrilled to be a part of it.
I will ‘talk’ to you all from NOME!!!