Brenda's 2003 Daily Iditarod Coverage
Countdown to Iditarod 2003 Restart — Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
12–20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
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March 10, 2003
Monday, The Race for the Top Continues and We fly Home.

Boarding a plane to fly to Atlanta turned into a logistical nightmare. Bill called to confirm Tonto's reservation and was told that everything was squared away. When we arrived at Ted Stevens Memorial Airport in Anchorage, it seems that Northwest Airlines' right hand did not know what its left hand was doing. They decided that it was too cold for an Iditarod dog to fly!! The expected temperature in Minneapolis was -6F and their rule is below +10F is too cold for a dog. Never mind that Tonto was in -60F last year on the race with Bill. The option was to wait and hope for a warming trend, which put all of our Atlanta plans askew or for me to go ahead and leave Bill behind. That made the most sense as they were expecting +12F by midday in Minnesota and Tonto should be able to fly. I flew on Sunday night by myself, leaving Bill and Tonto behind.

Luckily Doug Grilliot, a musher who withdrew earlier from this year's Iditarod, and is a pilot with Northwest, was in the airport. Kindly, Doug offered his dog truck to Bill so that he and Tonto could get to a hotel and not make the late drive back to Wasilla only to be back at the airport by 7:00AM in rush hour traffic. Instead of finding a hotel room, Bill drove to the Millennium Headquarters where Lois and Joanne let Bill have one of the ITC Volunteer cots for the night. That was a lifesaver. Monday morning, when Bill and Tonto arrived back at the airport to fly, one of the counter clerks for Northwest decided that now Tonto's kennel was too small. They made Bill buy another one for $100 that added a whopping 3" in height over the one we already had. The difference was tiny and meant that Tonto could stand with his head up instead of with his head down. Mushers and veterinarians will tell you that excessive space is more damaging to the animal as they can bump around too much inside the container. But Northwest got their $100 and created one unhappy customer. Long story short, everyone made it back to Atlanta. Jordan is thrilled to have Tonto home. And Bill did say that when he went to find Tonto in Minneapolis to take him for a walk, the Pet Care ladies there were very nice and also were Iditarod fans. Tonto had instant status!!


While we were in the air, the race seemed to maintain a similar appearance, with Robert Sorlie leading, Ramy Brooks and Jeff King at his heels. Robert Sorlie received the Gold Coast Award for being first to reach the coast and had a gourmet dinner compliments of the Millennium Hotel for being First Off the Yukon, an award that was changed this year to reflect the unusual race route. In reviewing the articles from Anchorage Daily News, it seems that King has sped up. Has he got something up his sleeve? "More than 700 miles into the Iditarod, all of the teams are now slower. Teams never speed up. The winner simply loses less speed than the losers." Everyone is guessing if King has been hiding his team's true speed, since he is known to come from behind to win. That is the big question and one we will have to wait to have answered soon. We were sorry to find that G.B. Jones had scratched when we were able to check ITC standings again.



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