|My awesome pre race breakfast, especially made by Helen!!!!|
We did get a bit behind loading dogs, but our drive to Willow was short, so no harm done.
After getting all parked, the first task was getting the sled packed and ready to go. It always astounds me how much gear I figure has to make the trip with me. Further down the trail, much of the stuff seems to be sent back home unused, but at the start it all seems important!!!
This is what was in the sled (more or less) -
sleeping bag (mandatory)
16 dog dishes
3 bottles HEET
cooler for mixing dog food
dog booties (mandatory)
feeding for the dogs (8lbs kibble and 4lbs chicken)
4 snacks for dogs
snack bag for me
emergency meal for me
batteries (enough for the whole race. We cannot ship these in our drop bags)
flashing lights for dogs harnesses and collars
supply of 5-hour energy shots
8 dog jackets
6 checkpoint blankets
3 spare harnesses
extra socks, neckwarmer, boots, and long underwear
change of underwear
thermos of coffee
vet kit (meds for dogs, wrist wraps, shoulder jacket, harness rub shirt, massage oil, first aid items...)
Personal kit for Karen (Advil, my prescriptions, toothbrush, toothpaste, burn cream, Gold Bond powder, etc.)
Trail Mail (mandatory)
My notebook (trail notes, race plan, previous times, etc., etc.)
Beads of Courage
and 'Sticky Cinnamon buns' from my buddy Russ Bybee (no fear, they didn't make it to Yentna Station - YUM)
That done I phoned my Mom and Mark - having short but nice conversations with them both.
Keith Blaha, our housemate for the winter at Donna's, cooked up some reindeer sausage on the barbeque and I munched on a couple of those for lunch.
The dogs, of course, were fed and watered.
And Iditarod officials came by to check microchips on my final 16.
Actually, I had brought 17 dogs to the start line that morning. 'Hard Luck' Irving had been given the 'go' to run after our moose encounter, but he had had a small scrap with Charge right after the vet check that left him limping on his OTHER rear leg. I knew it was a minor 'owie' and it just needed a few days to heal to be better, but it was touch and go if there was enough time between the injury and the race.
Dr. Mike Davis looked at him for me the morning of the restart and it was his thought that Irving needed another day or so of rest. So he was out and little Boo got that nod.
|"Did somebody call my name??"|
That made the team consist of:
Unfortunately, of the seven girls in the team ALL were in season. Many experienced mushers will tell you to NEVER take an in season girl on Iditarod, but with so many in that condition, my hands were simply tied. I was just going to have to manage the best I could. I knew it was going to be a challenge.
I fussed with gear but was pretty relaxed about everything. Everything felt pretty organized and under control.
Race officials came over and warned us about a batch of 'overflow' (water over ice) in the START CHUTE. GREAT!! I opted to not boot the dogs as the overflow would get them wet and useless immediately anyway.
Word was given that our time was near, so dogs were harnessed and clipped into the team. Gear was given last minute checks and at 3:43, as per the instructions Richard wrote in the dirt on the back of the dog truck. (For the record, Richard was kind enough to wash the dog truck on Thursday so it was sparkling clean for the Ceremonial Start but the drive home from Anchorage on Saturday ruined his hard work!!!! I very much appreciated it though!) I pulled the hook and we headed for the start chute.
Time to go play!!!!!