Brenda's 2003 Daily Iditarod Coverage
Countdown to Iditarod 2003 Restart — Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
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March 7, 2003
Jockeying for Position, Doing the Math and Another Route Change.

Now is the time in the race that it gets very confusing to determine who is exactly where in the standings. Do the math by figuring who has and has not taken their 8-hour layover on the river and the mandatory 24-hour layover and adding in the 2 minute interval start time differential, which is added onto the 24-hour layover time. The math gets a bit mind boggling at times to the fans and even to the mushers who are constantly trying to figure out just who is on their heels. Sorlie took his 24 in Eagle Island and Ramy Brooks took his in Galena. Jeff King has not taken his 24 yet, nor has Swenson, Buser or Baker although some have taken their 8-hours already. See what I mean? It can make your head swim to think of all the angles and for the mushers, who are tired and very busy out there, they have to really plot and plan to stay mentally ahead of the game.

As I write tonight, Jeff King has topped Robert Sorlie. Ramey Smyth has joined the front runners as has Jon Little. It is still anybody's race at this point. Jeff King and daughter, Cali, are running with some innovations this year. One of these is the harness design which does not pull on the hips of the dog at all but allows the dog to push into the harness with its shoulders. It seems to be helping as King still has 15 dogs tonight. King is still runing without necklines same as last year. Watching sled design, types of runner plastic, different gangline configurations and other modifications mushers dream up can be an education in itself. Everyone is looking for that extra edge to be first under the arch in Nome.

Other strategies will begin to be unveiled and musher mind games will be played. Robert Sorlie tends to get his dogs "dressed and ready to go" long before he is really going to leave. The team has consequently learned to stand quietly in harness rather than jump, howl, lunge, bark and cajole the musher to hurry up. Lynda Plettner trains her dogs this way as well. She too gets them dressed and makes them wait. They do not pull out while the dogs are barking and carrying on but when they calm down. Conserving energy in this way can make a difference in the team.

Dean Osmar has scratched tonight, the reason is said to be due to a stomach virus or food poisoning. And the 10 o'clock news just explained that the race route has been altered again. Shageluk is being eliminated from the route due to overflow and open water and Anvik will become the turnaround point to head back up Eagle Island the second time. I wonder how many versions of the Fairbanks to Nome tee shirts have been printed? Here we have yet another race route to memorialize in Iditarod 2003 souvenirs.


This afternoon we visited Plettner Kennels to pick up Tonto who is going home to Georgia to join Lookout and Nacho. Tonto went to the Wasilla Vet to get his health certificate and rabies shot for travel. Tonto seemed very happy to be going home with us. Bill and I had dinner with Bob Morgan but Maureen was unable to attend.



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