Brenda's 2003 Daily Iditarod Coverage
Countdown to Iditarod 2003 Restart — Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
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February 25-27, 2004
Iditarod Food Drop is complete, Jr. mushers final preparations

For several weeks now Iditarod mushers have been stockpiling fish, cutting meat and assembling suppllies for their drop bags to be sent along the trail. When you hear a musher say, "We're in the middle of food drops," they are usually pretty stressed, especially if it is their first time. Food drop is a major expense of the race. There are seventeen checkpoints to which food and supplies can be shipped.

A few weeks ago, the mushers were distributed large poly bags marked with each checkpoint name. These bags were labeled by the mushers with their own name and some distinguishing mark so they can be easily spotted in the "pile." Each musher has their own special secret recipes for doggie treats, supplements and personal items that are included in their bags. Other items shipped would have included plastic sled runners, repair kits, extra dog booties, medications for the dogs, leg wraps, dog coats, change of layers for the musher, dry socks and gloves, Capri Suns and human meals that have been vacumn sealed. Every musher has a system of packing so that they can easily find what they need out of each bag when they need to quickly prepare their dogs a hot meal and be able to do this while cold, tired and sore. Once the drop items are organized and packed, they are taken to a large warehouse in Anchorage, lumped into stacks according to checkpoint by dozens of volunteers and then flown out by the Iditarod Airforce to their destinations. From some reports, ravens seem to know when this happens and follwo the shipments to try and break into the bags to steal the dog food. A large collective sigh of relief can be felt and heard as food drop is over.

Fur Rondy is in full swing. This year the dates of the two week celebration were changed to coincide with Iditarod activities. There is a carnival in downtown Anchorage and beautiful snow sculptures down by the railroad terminal. Dimond Mall is the site of a Native arts and crafts show. Herbie and Elizabeth Nayokpuk were there selling carvings and jewelery from Shishmaref along with many talented artisans. There are special activities, performances, music, sprint races and a fur auction happening all around town.

The Junior Iditarod Start has been moved due to lack of snow and poor trail conditions in the Wasilla Area. The start will be at 10Am on Saturday February 28, at Susitna Landing located at Mile 82 on the Parks Highway.

Starting order is as follows –
1-Honorary Musher Larry Thompson
2-Alana Schlang
3-Cheyenne Schmidt
4-Nicole Osmar
5-Elizabeth Jayne
6-Justin Vanover
7-Baillee Holt
8-Joshua Cadzow
9-Micah Degerland
10-Alex Westlake
11-Kathleen Blevins
12-Crystal Compare
13-Staci Tarpey
14-Melissa Owens
15-Max Kornmuller
16-Michaela Maddalena
17-Jeremy Hoover
18-Dallas Seavey
19-Rohn Buser
20-Nikolai Buser
21-Tessa King
Elisabeth Haberman and Mallory Smith withdrew before the race.

The teams will travel over the historic Iditarod Trail, from Susitna Landing, to Alaska’s Deshka River Lodge, Eagle Song, and on to the Yentna Station Roadhouse on the Yentna River. The Jr. Mushers are required to stay overnight at Yentna and then will return along the same route on Sunday. The Jr. Banquet will be held at Settlers Bay on Sunday night.

Updates will be posted when we are able to use a phone line. Check back often as that may happen at irregular intervals.